Mrs. Harris

by Alex Bernstein

Mrs. Harris? It’s Albert Levy again. Are you there? Okay. Okay. I’m trying to be polite and civil and responsible, here, but I’ve sort-of had it with this. As you know – and as I’ve mentioned several times – we appear to have very similar phone numbers; like just a digit off or something. And you’ve given out my phone number instead of yours to all of your clients or case files or whatever you call them. This has been going on now for several weeks. And while it’s been extremely annoying to me and my family – your clients are now also very upset.

I’ve taken some notes. This is just a small sampling. You might want to get a pen. Mr. Lee hasn’t received any welfare checks for the past two weeks and is running out of food. Miss Osorio needs your permission to sign up for a particular methadone clinic. She’s very concerned. “Concerned” is the wrong word – “panicky, freaked out, and possibly self-destructive” may be more appropriate. But we can leave it at “concerned.” Ms. Guzman is paranoid that her old boyfriend is following her and wants to hurt her. She doesn’t know what to do. I suggested she call 911 but she seemed to think that you and I work together and wanted me to, I don’t know, come get her. Which is my fault, really. Honestly, why I suggested anything – I have no idea – except that I just – I don’t know – I felt for her. Y’know? I mean I feel for all these people. How could you not? But that’s beside the point.

Anyway. What else? Mr. Solano wants to know if you’re looking into his housing situation. He calls a lot. Mr. Davis – Mr. Davis – just wants someone to talk to. Anyone. He’s just – alone. And this list just goes on and on and on.

Mrs. Harris, you must give these people the right number. You must. I can’t imagine it will take you more than five minutes to – to fix whatever this sheet is that you’re sending out.

Let me reiterate – I am not changing my number. I’ve had my number over 14 years now. This is my number, and this situation is your mistake. I have no idea what your circumstances are, and, honestly, I don’t care. This is your problem. I’ve tried to steer these people to your office. But they don’t understand what I’m saying. They want me to help them. I can’t help them. I can’t. I do digital marketing. And – that’s not the point, anyway. This is your problem. And it’s upsetting my family.

So, listen. I spoke to your office and whatever sheet you’re sending out is locked, and they can’t change it. They say you have to unlock and change it. So, I am asking you, please, please, for the last time, please, do your job, do the right thing, and fix this worksheet.

And one more thing, Mrs. Harris. Again, I’m trying to be civil and polite, here, but well – your office did one more thing for me. They gave me your home phone number. So, here’s the deal. If you don’t contact me and confirm that you’ve changed this number by this weekend – I’m going to leave a message on my answering machine instructing these people to call you directly – at your personal, home phone number – instead of mine. I’m sorry, Mrs. Harris. Honestly, this really isn’t like me. But you leave me no choice. So, again, if I don’t hear from you by – hello? Mrs. Harris? Oh, you are there? Oh. Yes. Well. Hello.


Alex Bernstein (@promonmars) is a freelance writer in New Jersey and the author of Miserable Holiday Stories. His work has appeared at Corvus, BluePrintReview, Hobo Pancakes, The Big Jewel, MonkeyBicycle, Yankee Pot Roast, Swink, Litro, and Back Hair Advocate, among others.  Please visit him at


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