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How Dialing the Wrong Phone Number Gained Her a New Friend

Looking for a ride to church, she misdialed a taxi service—and got just what she needed.

Luanne, left and Ginet; Photo credit: Luanne Holzloehner

Taxi service, the flyer read. I breathed a sigh of relief. After several months living without a car in this little town in central Vermont, I had some hope of independence.

“I’ve got a piece of paper to write down the number,” my daughter, Pat, said, digging in her purse. “They could take you to church.”

Pat had been driving me just about everywhere since I moved back to Vermont after 20 years in Canada, sharing the job with my son. She’d driven me over to the local senior citizen center this very afternoon. That’s where I saw the flyer.

I jotted down the number, hoping it wasn’t the kind of taxi service that took you all around Robin Hood’s barn with the meter running whenever you got in the car. As the only taxi service I had found in Milton, they didn’t have to worry about competition.

“Give them a call and see what they charge,” Pat said. I tucked the paper into my purse and we got in her car.

“Thanks again for driving me.” The truth was, I just couldn’t get used to relying on other people. Not even my own children. At my age—82—maybe I should have just accepted that was the way it had to be. But I’d spent my life taking care of other people. I was a nurse for half a century. I took in stray animals. My second husband and I had built a log cabin together. For the past three years I’d cared for my third husband, Hans, who had Alzheimer’s. When Hans got angry he depended on me to put my hands on top of his and assure him God loved him. When he moved into a care facility I went every day to see him. I fed him, bathed him, groomed his beard.

After Hans died, I felt empty. Useless. I’d hoped moving back to Vermont to be near family would help, but with no car, no friends, I felt like a burden. Pat had already driven me around to get a look at several churches in the area, but I hadn’t yet attended a service. This taxi could really save me, I thought when Pat dropped me off at my mobile home.

Inside I went straight for the phone. My mind was full of memories of my old church back in Canada. I’d never missed a Sunday there and volunteered wherever I could. Joining a church would make me feel useful again, I was sure. Like a real part of the community in Milton.

I checked the number I’d copied down and punched it into my phone. The call was picked up by an answering machine. What kind of taxi service is this? “Hello,” I said after the beep. “I’m calling to find out how much the fare would be to take me to the church on Centre Drive. Please call me back.” I left my number and hung up.

By the time I went to bed, the service hadn’t called me back. They didn’t call the next morning either. Or that afternoon. Looks like another dead end, I thought as I sat down to eat dinner. Another Sunday would go by without me going to church.

Just as I spread my napkin on my lap, the phone rang. “Hello,” the caller said. “This is Ginet. You called me yesterday about a taxi?”

“Yes, that was me!”

“I’m afraid you have the wrong number. I’m not a taxi.”

My heart sank. Had I written down the number wrong? Or maybe the taxi service had gone out of business. Whatever the reason, I was still stuck. Helpless. A burden. “I’m sorry to have bothered you,” I said, trying to keep the disappointment out of my voice. “I was just trying to find a ride to church.”

The line was quiet. I was about to apologize again for troubling her when she spoke up.

“I can do that.”

“You? Personally?”

“My grandmother passed away recently,” Ginet said. “I used to give her rides a lot. Since she died I’ve been looking for some other way to be of service. I’d be happy to bring you to church.”

I hesitated. It was bad enough relying on my children. Did I want to take favors from strangers as well? She did offer, I told myself. And she seems sincere in wanting to help…

“I’ll come over and introduce myself,” she said. “Then I’ll know right where to pick you up for church.”

The next day, Ginet pulled up at my home in a nice blue sedan. She had long hair and wore clean jeans and a flannel shirt. “Pleased to meet you,” she said. We got to chatting. Turned out Ginet did a lot of dog-sitting.

“I love dogs,” I said. “All animals, really.” Soon we were talking about all the animals I’d cared for.

Ginet complimented my mobile home. “I live in a log cabin.”

“I lived in a log cabin!” I said. “Back in Jeffersonville!” By the time Ginet left, I felt like we were old friends. On Sunday she drove up right on time. She even brought homemade blueberry bread still warm from the oven. Driving with Ginet, I didn’t feel like I was imposing. It felt like riding with a friend.

Outside the church she did some networking and explained my situation to some of the members. In minutes I had several offers for a ride home. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who liked to help. Why couldn’t I accept the blessing of allowing others that opportunity?

That was the start of a whole new attitude for me. I guess I’d dialed just the right number after all.

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