One day Chad Varah, having decided to create a telephone counselling service (The Samaritans) in the crypt of the church of St. Stephen Walbrook in London, set out to secure a simple, easily-remembered number.

As the church was located in the "Mansion House" area of London, the number would have to be assigned the prefix MAN. Varah settled upon MAN-9000.

In need of a telephone to call the Post Office (to see whether the number was available), Varah was pleased to find an ancient telephone in the corner of the church's dusty crypt. Picking up the receiver, he called the Post Office telephone sales department, where a clerk asked him from which number he was calling.

Producing a handkerchief, Varah rubbed the center of the dial -- and was astonished by the number thus revealed: MAN-9000!

[A First Methodist Church in Hollywood once had a telephone number which spelled "God-damn."]

[As late as 1977, Cairo's telephone system (with only 208,000 phones and no phone book) was so bad that businessmen often flew to Athens to place calls from Greek hotels!]

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