Mix-up in area codes led to 20-year friendship between woman in Florida and man in Rhode Island

Gladys Hankerson of Delray Beach, Florida, and Mike Moffitt from Rhode Island are living proof that sometimes the best friendships can develop in the most unexpected ways. Their 20-year-long bond began when Hankerson dialed the wrong number, trying to reach her sister in Maryland but getting Moffitt on the line instead.

“At first, it was just like her saying, ‘Oh I’m sorry!’ and she’s really Southern, very hospitable, polite, very sweet, she’s like, ‘I’m so sorry, child!’ and then she hangs up real quick,” Moffitt told NBC News.

But Hankerson kept dialing the same Rhode Island area code of 401 instead of Maryland’s 410, and eventually, Moffitt decided to ask her who she was and where she was from. “It was at first her misdialing. Then I think she just started calling, not misdialing,” he said.

Although the two had never met face-to-face, they talked on the phone every few months for two decades, their conversations evolving from casual chats to deeper, heartfelt discussions. Moffitt was working in a call center when he first talked to Hankerson, and he found their talks to be a refreshing break from his usual calls.

For both of them, their friendship proved to be a source of comfort during difficult times: Hankerson had just lost her son and was going through a divorce, while Moffitt had lost his grandparents. “During that time, I was downhearted, and he (Mike) felt my sympathy and everything — lifted me up,” Hankerson said. “I understood what it meant to her,” Moffit added.

Their friendship grew stronger as they shared their personal stories and supported each other through life’s ups and downs. In fact, Moffitt knew when Hankerson’s loved ones passed away because her son would call him and let him know.

“All of a sudden [our relationship] became not like a superficial check-in call,” he said. “She had her son call at one time to let me know that somebody close to her passed away. I understood what it meant to her.”

Then, after two decades of phone calls and heartfelt conversations, Moffitt finally got the chance to meet Hankerson in person. On Thanksgiving Day in 2021, he and his family were on a road trip to Florida when they got delayed at a drawbridge. Moffitt realized they were only two miles away from Hankerson’s home, so he decided to pay her a surprise visit.

Hankerson was overjoyed to finally meet her friend of 20 years. “I walked in and said, ‘Gladys, it’s Mike from Rhode Island!’ and she said, ‘Oh, my friend Mike! I’m blessed,’ and threw her arms up,” Moffitt recalled. “Yes, yes. I hugged him, he hugged me and we took a picture. He’s very nice. In the world these days, you don’t meet too many nice people,” Hankerson added.

Their story is a testament to the power of human connection, the unexpected ways we can form lasting bonds with people we’ve never even met in person, and the importance of staying in touch with the people who matter most to us.

As Moffitt said, “It’s like we have a relationship that’s beyond phone calls. We’re good friends. I never even questioned it. It just became a part of my life, and I think it became a part of her life too.”