EXCLUSIVE: It was 1980 when Allan Bridge, a stressed painter from Washington, D.C., posted flyers round New York Metropolis encouraging individuals to name a mysterious line and “apologize for his or her wrongs… with out jeopardizing themselves.”
Hundreds of residents not solely dialed in, however they revealed their deepest, darkest secrets and techniques involving theft, infidelity and homicide.
Bridge’s widow, Marissa Bridge, is now coming ahead and recounting how the as soon as promising undertaking took a horrifying flip in a brand new Wondery podcast titled “The Apology Line” the place listeners can discover how the previous “pleased go fortunate” artist received greater than what he bargained for. It options interviews with those that knew Bridge, in addition to precise recordings made through the years supplied by Marissa, who narrated the podcast.
Allan Bridge handed away in 1995 at age 50.
“He died whereas The Apology Line was nonetheless working,” Marissa instructed Fox Information. “And it at all times bothered that he wasn’t in a position to full it in the way in which he needed to. So I felt it was my responsibility as his spouse and being a supporter of the road to at all times be certain that it didn’t disappear into the dustbin of historical past, so to talk. And that it might be dropped at the general public once more, indirectly, form or kind.”
Bridge moved to New York Metropolis in 1977 the place he pursued carpentry to assist make ends meet. He additionally resorted to shoplifting.
“It was an issue that he’d had since he was a child,” Marissa defined. “He began to consider how he might do one thing that will assist different individuals. After which he got here up with the concept of the phone and an answering machine as a method to give individuals the chance to apologize, to let go of the guilt and ache they have been feeling for his or her misdeeds.”
The idea was easy. Bridge solicited the general public to name a machine-answered telephone line that was secretly related to his loft and apologize for something in any respect. Callers have been instructed to “not determine your self and name from a pay telephone to forestall tracing,” the New York Post reported. In keeping with the outlet, the flyers additionally made it clear that The Apology Line had no affiliation to police, authorities or any spiritual organizations.
The calls got here in instantly. By 1983, voyeurs might telephone in and hearken to recorded classes, the outlet famous. The road was receiving about 100 calls a day. Bridge, who needed to hide his identification, grew to become often known as “Mr. Apology.”
The calls by no means stopped for 15 years.
“Within the very starting, callers talked about seeing murders,” mentioned Marissa. “The primary few weeks of the road, somebody known as and so they mentioned that they robbed and killed homosexuals, which corresponded to what was really occurring in New York Metropolis on the time. That bothered him from the very starting… It was an actual ethical dilemma for Allan. He wrestled with this for a really very long time.”
Within the podcast, listeners may even be taught of Ritchie, a self-confessed serial killer who phoned in for 5 years. And there was Bernie, who vowed he was going to hunt Bridge down and homicide him.
“That actually upset me,” Marissa admitted. “At that time, I wasn’t dwelling with Allan as a result of it was within the first yr of our relationship. And it bothered Allan very a lot. This was a tough time in New York Metropolis again then when there was numerous crime. Town had virtually gone bankrupt. There have been only a few police. It was just like the Wild West of Midtown, a low level for New York Metropolis. So it wasn’t outrageous to suppose that somebody would do one thing like [that]. There was no cash and other people do numerous crime when there’s no cash. It was rampant. So we have been very scared.”
Marissa was relationship Bridge on the time The Apology Line was created and the couple tied the knot in 1984.
The undertaking would finally grasp the marriage. Sometimes, Allan would choose up an incoming name and speak to somebody who sounded suicidal. There have been additionally runaways who felt unloved by their households. Vietnam veterans dialed in and detailed the “actually horrible issues” they did abroad within the line of responsibility. Bridge felt dedicated to The Apology Line, however in accordance with his widow, it in the end “consumed” him.
“He was 35 on the time once I met him,” mentioned Marissa. “He was younger, tremendous excited and devoted to it. And he saved that vitality up. However through the years, it simply grew to become his main work. He didn’t earn a living from it. So he needed to help himself doing carpentry. And through the years, it definitely took a toll on our relationship.”
“These calls have been a heavy burden to hold,” she continued. “How are you going to unplug one thing like this when individuals really want you? It was simply murderers that weigh heavy, however individuals had so many issues. All the pieces you could possibly presumably think about, individuals dropped at The Apology Line. Damaged hearts, damaged households – every kind of tragic issues have been occurring to individuals. Allan believed in his work. And I wouldn’t have ever instructed him to cease. Artists need to do what they need to do. He felt this was his life’s work till he couldn’t do it anymore.”
The one time Bridge ever made cash off of his undertaking was when HBO made a 1986 film titled “Apology.” Along with devoting himself to The Apology Line, he additionally started publishing month-to-month collections of the perfect confessions in 1993, the New York Times reported.
“On the finish of his life, he was going via a really troublesome time,” Marissa admitted. “He had three phone strains at that time… he was simply utterly overwhelmed and questioning how he might proceed doing all of this. He was in a down place. He wasn’t as pleased go fortunate as he as soon as was. At that time, he was struggling below the burden of making an attempt to do all this work just about by himself. He had just a few volunteers who helped as a lot as they might, however it simply grew to become an excessive amount of. There was no cash and nobody was getting paid. It was a troublesome scenario.”
In 1995, Bridge was struck and killed by a jet ski whereas diving in Shinnecock Inlet on Lengthy Island. Whereas his dying was extensively lined by the press on the time, the jet skier was by no means caught.
“I might hope that they might apologize,” mentioned Marissa. “It was an accident. It was not their fault. It was an unintended dying, however I’m certain that particular person carries round numerous ache about it. And in the event that they did come ahead to apologize, I believe it might be very therapeutic for them. And for me. Though, I’ve forgiven that particular person as a result of I knew that it wasn’t accomplished deliberately. It was only a tragic accident. So I don’t maintain any unwell will in the direction of the particular person in any respect. Allan was simply on the mistaken place on the mistaken time.”
Marissa hopes that listeners tuning in is not going to solely perceive the facility of apologizing but in addition higher perceive how decided Bridge was in pursuing his beloved artwork.
“We’re all the identical below the floor,” mentioned she. “All of us have issues. All of us have ache… Despite all of the difficulties Allan confronted in working the road, he actually believed in what he was doing. And I hope that comes throughout on this [podcast]. If one thing is vital to you and also you consider it, do it. Do it nicely.”
“The Apology Line” is on the market for streaming via Apple Podcasts.