Calling the wrong person, paying the wrong price or getting measurements wrong, mistakes with numbers can have implications that range from annoying to serious. In this short story, one of our reader’s recounts an occasion when number problems added an interesting twist to an evening out.

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Character Key:

Steph: author

Laura: friend in car

Diane: friend in the house

“It’s a bit dark isn’t it?” I said while studying Google Maps to check we were in the right place.

We’d just parked up in front of a pitch black house.

“She said she’d be home by now.” Laura said as she stared at the house, puzzled by its stillness.

We expected Diane to be home by now, we were meeting up for pizza, wine and a lot of Audrey Hepburn movies. This was going to be the first one in a long line of those evenings, but so far we were looking at a grey, grim and very dark house.

“Maybe you should text her”, I said as Laura pulled out her phone to check her messages.

As she typed, Laura mouthed the words ‘R U still out? Send.’ While we waited we thought we’d start the party in the car, singing loud and out of tune and generally goofing about. We almost didn’t hear Laura’s phone buzz. Diane had texted back. ‘No, I’m home xxx’

We looked at each other puzzled, then back at the dark house.

“Maybe she’s at the back, and we just need to knock?” I said hesitantly.


We got out of the car and walked to the dark porch. As we rung the bell, shivering in the cold wind, we looked at each other. Nothing. We knocked on the door, but still nothing. No light, and definitely nobody home.

Like a couple of unsure teenagers, we hung around the dark house, looking through windows. But we were pretty sure there was nobody home. This time I messaged Diane, ‘Are you sure? We’re here ringing the bell and you’re not opening the door xxx.’ The reply came almost immediately. ‘Where are you? I am outside and I can’t see you. xxx’

Diane messaged again. ‘Are you at the right house?’ Laura looked at me, and I pulled the paper from my jeans pocket where I’d scribbled down the number earlier that day. I looked at the number on the front of the house. I vigorously typed a reply ‘Yeah, we’re at Number 161’. Diane replied, ‘I live at 116. Did you switch the numbers round again? xxx’

“Steph!” Laura yelled at me.

I ducked just in time to avoid a friendly slap on the head.

“You switched the numbers. We’ve been standing at the wrong house.”

“I’m sorry!” I said, laughing realising my mistake. “I was sure we were at the right place. I am really the wrong person to take directions from and let be in charge of the address!”

We got back in the car and drove further up the road.

“I think it should be here”, I said, pointing to a house on the corner.

Laura gave me a quick suspicious look. “I don’t trust you anymore.” She laughed, I so knew she found this just as hilarious as I did. That’s when we saw Diane standing on the street waving at us.

“Alright”, Laura said. “But next time, I’m in charge of directions.”

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