News: April 22, 2005
Petra 1-800 Quirk Leads Some to Roofing Business
A quirk in the 1-800 number for the Petra: Lost City of Stone exhibition at Calvin College has led to more than two dozen phone calls to a roofing consultant in Coraopolis, Penn., located about 15 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
The 1-800 number for Petra at Calvin is 1-800-PETRA05 with the last two digits — zero, five — pointing to the year — 2005 — that Calvin is hosting the traveling, museum exhibition.
In fact, Calvin's number, using just numbers and not letters, is 1-800-738-7205. But there's a 1-800 number for Coraopolis resident Jack West's company, Roof Inspection Service, that is awfully close to that. His number is 1-800-738-7265. It's the same as Calvin's except for the second-last number.
The problem arises when people mistake the zero in PETRA05 for the letter O. Dialing the letter O, instead of the number zero, leads them away from the Middle East — due West.
West Knows Petra
Happily for Calvin, West is a bit of a Petra fan.
He first heard of the city through the writings of turn-of-the-century adventurer Richard Halliburton who visited Petra. West also recalls a National Geographic cover story on Petra a few years back that had him glued to the pages as he read more of the mysteries and marvels of the rose-red city.
So, when he started getting calls on his business line about Petra he was happy to explore further and soon learned that Calvin would be hosting Petra: Lost City of Stone through August 15. And he began telling people a little about the exhibit, while also passing on the right 1-800 number. He's gone so far as to return calls left on his voicemail service, including a recent call from a teacher in Muskegon!
And West is making plans to visit Petra at Calvin himself. In appreciation for his services the college has given him a discount on a room at its Prince Conference Center, where Petra is being housed, and added a couple of free tickets to the package.
Calvin vice president Henry DeVries says simply: "It's the least we could do. It's funny how things worked out. Jack could have ignored these calls, or gotten mad. Instead he's become an advocate for the exhibit. We appreciate his efforts a great deal."
For his part West is happy to help.
"I thought the Calvin (1-800) number was pretty clever," he says, "but I can see how people might make a mistake. The exhibit sounds great. I hope I'm able to get to take advantage of Calvin's offer, get to Grand Rapids and see it for myself."