I am an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.
How Can I Help You?
An individual who chooses to remain anonymous, who will be known for our purposes as 'Rose,' was employed for many years as a hospital switchboard operator. During her time on the job, she experienced more than her fair share of bizarre exchanges. None, however, were quite as memorable as the ones she shared with a patient in the psychiatric ward.
It was while performing her duties on the nightshift that Rose first encountered a patient who would soon become a thorn in her side. It all started when the switchboard lit up indicating that someone in the wing designated for those who had been involuntarily committed wanted to make a call.
When Rose picked up, the voice on the other end of the line asked to be put through to a local floral shop. Relatively new to the position, the young operator didn't know anything about the caller except that she sounded elderly and quite pleasant.
Although she was fairly certain that patients on that ward didn't have access to telephones, Rose honored the request; a decision she would soon come to regret. She didn't know it at the time, but she had opened a floodgate that could never be closed.
After fielding numerous calls from the woman, Rose's patience started to wear thin. On nights when she wasn't feeling charitable, she would refuse to place the call. It wasn't long before she learned that the elderly patient's soft-spoken nature masked a tenacity that knew no bounds.
I'll Try Back Later
Even though Rose sympathized with the infirm caller, she had other responsibilities to attend to. It was for this reason that she sometimes put the woman off, hoping that she would get the message and stop contacting the switchboard at all hours of the night.
On the rare occasions when she did put her foot down, Rose says the patient would politely accept her refusal, only to call back a few minutes later as if the prior conversation had never happened. This would continue for the remainder of the shift, or until Rose gave in, whichever came first.
Since the caller always asked to be transferred to the same florist, Rose decided to contact the establishment in an attempt to find out why the patient was so fixated on that particular locale. When she looked up the address in the town's directory, she discovered that it had gone out of business several years prior.
It was this revelation that convinced Rose that the woman was simply stuck in the past. That would explain her insistence on phoning the same number night after night knowing full well that no one would answer. It was an assumption that made perfect sense, unfortunately it missed the mark by a mile.
Finally, after weeks of putting up with the woman's ceaseless appeals to be connected to the flower shop, Rose decided to have a talk with the head of the psychiatric ward. After explaining the situation, she asked him to kindly revoke the offending patient's phone privileges.
The man was taken aback by the request. After gathering a bit more information, he informed Rose that none of the patients under his care had telephones in their rooms. Furthermore, they were not given access to any devices without a member of staff standing by to monitor their activities. He added that none of the unfortunate souls who had been involuntarily committed were allowed to leave their rooms during the night.
Although she didn't want to belabor the point, Rose insisted that the woman had indeed been placing calls nearly every night, whether he was aware of it or not. In an attempt to appease the obviously exasperated operator, the man asked her to give him the number of the room from which the calls were originating.
After checking her logbook, Rose provided him with the information. It was a game changer, to say the least. The department head put her on hold for a minute while he double-checked his own records. When he returned, he took Rose completely by surprise when he revealed that the room in question was vacant and had been for quite some time.
Having just been informed that the patient she had been communicating with for weeks did not exist, Rose took stock of herself and apologized for the misunderstanding. With that, she resumed her duties, hoping against hope that the mysterious woman would leave her in peace.
She would learn in short order that such a thing was not to be as the calls continued coming in unabated. In a last-ditch effort to put an end to the phenomena once and for all, the next time she picked up a call from the patient, Rose told her that the flower shop was closed down and the number was no longer in service.
Surprisingly, the woman accepted the news without a whimper of protest. She thanked Rose for her trouble and the call was disconnected. All was well until an hour later when the switchboard again came to life.
Rose's heart immediately sank. The call was coming from the empty room that was somehow housing a patient who wasn't there. Against her better judgement, she picked up the line and was greeted by the now familiar voice asking sweetly to be transferred to the florist.
Deciding then and there to adopt the mindset of 'if you can't beat them, join them;' Rose reluctantly obliged. Even though she knew from experience that the action wouldn't do any good, humoring the stubborn entity was easier than arguing. In the end, the beleaguered operator reasoned that it was better to give in than risk becoming a patient herself.
The identity of the night caller has never been determined. Who she was in life and why she remained earthbound, seemingly for the sole purpose of reaching someone at a flower shop that no longer existed, are questions that will probably never be answered. Spirits, as we all know, seldom share their motives with the living.