“I have the European plague. I need a doctor.”
“I have the European plague. I need a doctor for the American plague.”
“I’m not sure what you mean. What’s the American plague?”
“My child is in the bathroom with the European plague. Can you bring the doctor for the American?”
What was he talking about?.... The exchange continued for some time until the light dawned. This was the fourth occasion this has happened in over thirty years and 30,000 phone calls. The guest had phoned the front desk because his electrical devices used European outlets which are different from ours. He needed an “adaptor.” The clerk, not listening carefully, had heard “a doctor” and forwarded his call to me.
But I was also not listening carefully. It’s human nature to hear what you expect to hear, so I assumed that the caller had a medical problem.
I had heard “European plague” when he had said “European plug.” He had not said “my child is in the bathroom” but “my shaver is in the bathroom….”