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Got the Wrong Man!

            Sam and Jacqueline Pritchard started receiving mysterious phone calls to their home in England in the middle of the night. The person on the other end never made a comment. After a long pause, he would hang up.

            They changed their phone number to stop the harassing night calls. The stalker changed his tactic. He started sending them obscene and threatening anonymous letters in the mail. The couple discovered their house had been daubed with paint, and their tires were slashed. The Pritchards became prisoners of their own home and spent a small fortune on a security system. They had no idea what they had done to deserve such cruel treatment.

After four months of unexplained terrorism, they finally met the perpetrator. Mr. Pritchard caught James McGhee, a 53-year-old man, while he was damaging their car. As they looked at each other, Pritchard asked him, “Why are you doing this to us?”

The vandal responded, “Oh, no—I’ve got the wrong man!”

McGhee thought he was terrorizing a different man, who had been spreading rumors about him. He had looked up Pritchard’s name and address in the telephone directory and assumed he was the person responsible for slandering him. He got the wrong Pritchard.

Assumptions make us jump to the wrong conclusions, and others suffer as a result.

(Kent Crockett, I Once Was Blind But Now I Squint, Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2004, 71)

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