Unsung Hero #200

Rikki Gordon’s family has lived near Compo Beach for 4 generations.

Her grandparents bought a cottage in the early 1950s. Summers there — 6 family members crammed together, escaping New York City’s heat — were the happiest times of her life.

For the next 7 decades, she cherished that beach address — and the phone number that never changed.

After her parents died in 2008 and ’09, Rikki and her husband Allen Pack built a Nantucket-style home on the property. It was a new chapter, but a continuation of their beloved summer life. The phone number remained the same.

When COVID struck, Rikki — she’s a psychologist; he’s a psychiatrist — worked from Pacific Palisades, California. They rented out their Westport home.

When they returned this past June, Rikki was stunned at the tenant’s damage. Still, she consoled herself, they were all just “things.” They could be fixed.

Yet when she phoned Altice — Optimum’s parent company — to request a service appointment, they said she was calling from an unfamiliar number.

Rikki’s tenant had changed the phone number on her own, apparently as part of a promotion to get a lower rate than she was paying.

Realizing that her “227” number — actually, “CApital 7,” when that was the format — was gone devastated Rikki.

“That number belonged to my grandparents, my parents, my family,” she explains. It was part of her identity — and, of course, the way friends reached her. She started to cry.

Then she called Optimum, and was connected to a “wonderful, bright and thoughtful man named Mohamed.” Rikki told him about the damage to her home, but said the loss of her phone number meant far more.

“Mohamed understood the importance of family and history,” she says. He plunged right in.

Rikki Gordon’s “227” number dates back to these days.

For the next 3 hours, he wrote code to recreate her phone number. He enlisted a team of technology troubleshooters to help.

They — along with Mohamed’s expertise and dedication — worked a “small miracle.”

Throughout the ordeal, Rikki stayed in touch with Mohamed using neighbors Patricia McMahon and Matthew Levine’s landline.

Every 10 to 20 minutes he came on, with an update.

“Mohamed was not sure if this would work,” Rikki reports. “But I felt like he was a doctor doing delicate surgery, keeping me informed every step.

“This gentleman Mohamed was so kind, so dedicated to restoring my family’s link to friends and neighbors.”

After 3 “nail-biting, prayer-filled” hours, he had restored Rikki’s family history.

“He could have said, ‘sorry, the number is irretrievable.’ But he genuinely heard my distress, and devoted himself to helping. I cannot thank him enough. I want to acknowledge his work, and the fact that he cared about a stranger. Thank you, Mohamed!”

Done! Mohamed: You are our Unsung Heroes of the Week!

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

22 responses to “Unsung Hero #200

  1. That’s a great story and I’m so happy for you Rikki (I get it- it’s just a number, but that wd have gutted me too) What a horrible tenant you had, I’m glad this was a super happy ending- GO Mohamed!!!❤️🧡💛

  2. Emily Mikesell

    Lovely man and lovely story! So different from my deal-breaking Optimum experience which led to giving up my inherited 227 number. Glad to hear there are good, helpful people over there. But still sticking with Frontier.

  3. First nice thing I’ve heard about Optimum in a while

  4. WOW, What a heart warming story. We had CL (Clearwater) in Greens Farms. I remember our party line too. But getting back to the story, this guy went above and beyond!

  5. Celeste Champagne

    One of the only good things I’ve heard about Optimum. Mohammed saved the day and legacy. God bless him.

  6. Glad to hear a positive story involving Optimum. I have a similar number that connects with my family history still in use after 70 years! …and I also remember feeling a loss after we finally disconnected my Fathers cell phone after he passed away, I used to call it to hear his voice on the message he left when he couldn’t answer. Now the only place I could hear his voice is gone.
    Lets hope Mohamed doesn’t get fired for wasting company time, it’s Optimum after all, and I doubt the company has…evolved.LoL

  7. Ellen Dale Naftalin

    Heartwarming indeed. I understand completely the attachment to that original number. Mine was CLearwater 9. I grew up in Westport and moved to the Bay Area in CA for 37 years but now I am back with my husband. We have gone through great pains to make sure we keep that #. On the flip side we had an 800 # for our company and when we moved from San Rafael to Westport and changed our carrier our 800 411 WINNER # somehow got co-opted by a phone sex company.

  8. Tom Duquette, SHS '75

    I still remember our 227 number and when it was CA-7 too. I can’t blame Rikki for wanting to hold onto that link. Glad you were able to have your nostalgic number restored.

  9. Iain Bruce has pointed out something I missed. The headline of this story has to be: “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

    Absolutely brilliant.

  10. Arline Gertzoff

    I have had my Capital 7 number for 65 years and will never give it up

  11. Patricia McMahon

    Iain,
    Great minds think alike….
    When Rikki mentioned Dan would be publishing this heartwarming story,
    i sent her a YouTube clip of Steely Dan’s “Rikki don’t lose that number” following …#jusysayin’.
    While using our landline Rikki had it on speaker and could hear the concern,
    patience, and dedication from Mohamed. Doing everything in his power to retrieve this part of her family history. When he told her it’ll be resorted in the next 15-30 minutes we both jumped for joy . Great moment and exceptional customer service.
    And PS….I saw the damage at my friends home … shameful!!!

  12. Robert M Gerrity

    CA7-227-9251. Took me longer to learn my street name’s spelling but not the number. Gone with house sale. BUT – I use variations of it mostly as passwords because I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER IT. Kudos to Mohamed. Hopefully, he has learned he is an Unsung Hero.

  13. I understand this completely. My parents had the original phone number 4300. Then 7-4300, Capitol 7-4300, and 227-4300. When the family house was sold I wanted to keep that number but already had a different number at my own house and couldn’t switch because the newer number was established with my work. So someone in Westport today has 227-4300. I wonder who? I could call and find out – I know their number.

    • Since numbers are portable now, its quite possible someone across the country has it, not a Westporter.

  14. This is a shameless effort to win the Fogey contest, but I remember when our family’s Westport number was 2-4255. It was something else before that (1946), but my memory doesn’t stretch back that far although my time in Westport did.

    • Mary Schmerker

      Sorry Don but Peter and I win the “Fogey contest since we can remember when all we had were four digits. Ours was 5604. Numerically speaking Peter wins since his four digits lower and posibily assigned before ours were.

  15. Tracy Porosoff

    This heartwarming story reminds me of a similar situation I faced. Soon after my too-young mother passed away, I needed a new cellphone. The person at the AT&T store neglected to inform me that my cellphone messages wouldn’t transfer to my new phone. When he handed me my new phone and I realized that my years of text messages with my mom were wiped, I cried. Back at home, an Apple employee spent a long time on the phone with me and ultimately restored my text messages. Years later, I still can’t read the exchanges with my mom- the pain is still too fresh- but knowing they are back on my phone gives me tremendous comfort. The humanity of employees who can extend themselves to understand how precious these intangibles can be is precious and absolutely deserves our recognition. Bravo to Mohamed!

  16. Maggie Moffitt Rahe

    That story stirred a renewed faith in the Optimum company.
    Thank you Dan for sharing this. Muhammad definitely is an unsung hero.
    Hope he reads this!
    Maggie Rahe

  17. Mary Schmerker

    This story brought tears to my eyes. Just yeaterday I was remembering our CA7- number. We had it from the 1940’s when it was just four digits to the mid 1970’s when my mother died. I was wonderring what would happen if I dialed that number, was it reassigned. Some things just become a part of our lives and bring back memories that are cherished and are more valuable than items. The gentleman, Mohamed is a hero and I thank Rikki for sharing this with us and Dan for posting it.

  18. Adam Schwartz

    We also had a CA-7 (227) number. We moved out of Westport in 1973 and about 15 years ago I too wondered who had my old number, so I called it. When a man answered, I hung up, not knowing what to say! A year or two ago I checked the number online and it’s a business number now. Do they still blow the Horn when there’s a fire in Westport and are the horn codes still in the Telephone Directory?

  19. I thank everyone for responding to my story. It is amazing what is so important to us. The phone number , the address, the sound of a voice carries so much meaning.

  20. Great that the number is back but don’t know what “wrote code” to get it back means (unlikely). As long as the number wasnt re-assigned and was in their pool, they could get it back. It was more likely Mohammed didnt know what department to call or had to escalate and that is what took 3 hours. Next time contact Optimum Executive Team and I am sure it will be resolved quick 🙂

    ps. i have a pretty good family phone number that is 40 years old. ported it Ooma’s free service and have hung onto it.

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