How a Poughkeepsie Man (Briefly) Became Donald Trump

Richard Rhoades kept getting calls intended for the Republican Presidential nominee, and here’s why

In The New Yorker’s current issue, there’s a quirky profile of a cranky-seeming Poughkeepsie man named Richard Rhoades. But who wouldn’t be irritated after three years worth of calls from folks mistakenly identifying him as Donald Trump—especially as this election campaign has descended into the surreal? 

The aforementioned piece details how, initially, friends and relatives began seeing the Donald’s name appear on their caller I.D. when Richard or his wife rang from their land line. Soon enough, it escalated to where incoming callers besieged Rhoades at all hours of the night, believing him to be the Republican nominee, bending his ear about building walls and beating out Hillary at the polls. (Rhoades, per the New Yorker‘s reporting, would prefer Mrs. Clinton’s adversary be sent “on a mission to Pluto.”)

Evidently, the 76-year-old retiree and Dutchess County resident was indeed errantly listed in public phone records as one Donald Trump, and ill-advisedly sought restoration of his good name via the Trump Organization, before Verizon eventually came to his rescue earlier this summer. But the New Yorker story omits one crucial detail: How on earth did this mix-up happen in the first place?

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“We pulled the account, and sure enough, the Directory Listing was entered as Donald Trump,” Ray McConville, Verizon media-relations rep for the Greater New York City area, tells Hudson Valley. “How his name ended up there in the first place is unclear, [but] once it was brought to our attention, we made the fix and we also called Richard to let him know this.”

McConville concedes that, prior to The New Yorker contacting Verizon about Rhoades’ dilemma, “We did have a record of him contacting us a few years ago one time,” adding, “I’m not sure why it wasn’t resolved then, but he hadn’t reached out to us directly since then.” 

Far as whether the gaffe could have resulted from an inside job, i.e. some merry Verizon prankster playing fast and loose with user accounts, McConville assuredly respond, “No, I don’t think that’s likely. That would be a serious violation of our code of conduct.” And he recommends all customers “should contact us with any service issues they’re having,” regardless of their presidential implications.

Hudson Valley did not call Donald Trump for comment. 

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