Friends who spoke for decades after misdialed phone call finally meet

Mike Moffitt and Gladys Hankerson, who began a 20-year friendship by accident, met for the first time in Florida last week.

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An elderly Black woman who was trying to call a relative but kept dialing the wrong number has finally met the white man with whom she developed an accidental friendship decades ago. 

Gladys Hankerson was dialing area code 401 instead of Maryland area code 410. A Rhode Island man, Mike Moffitt, answered Hankerson’s call initially and told WPBF that he got a call from her “a couple times that day, next week the same thing, maybe next month.” 

Mike Moffitt (left) and Gladys Hankerson (right), who began a 20-year friendship via a misdialed phone number, met in the flesh for the first time last week. (Photo: Screenshot/WPBF)

As Hankerson continued to misdial, Moffitt eventually asked her if she needed help. “Finally I just grabbed it and said, ‘Wait, wait, wait, before you go, who are you, where are you from, what are you trying to do?’ And we started talking,” Moffitt said.

Hankerson, who lives in Delray Beach, Florida, recalled what happened: “I told him, ‘I’m sorry, I was trying to call my sister,’ and he said, ‘This is Mike,’ and I said, ‘My son passed away,’ and he said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ and he talked real nice to me, and I talked real nice to him, and after that, I had his phone number, and I put it down on paper and I always called him.”

The unlikely friendship came at a hard time for Hankerson: She was grieving her son. She said Moffitt was kind and sympathetic to her. 

That was more than 20 years ago. 

According to USA Today, when Hankerson’s husband died, she told one of her children to call Moffitt and let him know. Moffitt sent flowers to the family. 

Moffitt and his family visited Florida last week for Thanksgiving, and he decided to make a surprise visit to his friend.

“I walk in and I said, ‘I’m Mike from Rhode Island,’ and she just threw her hands up and said, ‘I’m blessed,’” Moffitt said. “Oh it was such a great day, that was the happiest Thanksgiving there was, that made my day.”

Their meet-up didn’t last very long, Hankerson was getting ready for her Thanksgiving dinner and Moffitt said he didn’t want to be in the way, but they took a selfie together, a picture he shared on Facebook in a post that later went viral. 

“My story of a wrong number,” he wrote, describing his friendship with Hankerson. He concluded with: “There are incredible people in this world that are a wrong-number phone call away.” 

Hankerson contends she wishes more people could be like her friend Mike. “That would be so nice,” she said. “The world would be better too, people would be better.” 

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