LEIGHTON, Ala. (AP) — Monica Carter has been receiving condolences this week on the death of her husband, Gabe.
That has come as quite a surprise, considering Gabe is alive.
"I've had people call, wanting to know when the funeral is," Monica said.
Gabe Carter, 36, joked Wednesday he can confirm he's "alive and well."
The Carters, who own Gabe's 24 Hour Tire Service, have received at least four phone calls at the business since Tuesday afternoon from people asking about funeral arrangements and offering condolences.
The origin of the rumor remains a mystery. Even more strange: this isn't the first they've dealt with news of Gabe's death. About five years ago, a story circulated that Gabe died in a traffic accident, Monica Carter said. Just like this time, that brought numerous calls, and even hurt business.
"We have absolutely no idea what got it started, either," she said.
Their business involves roadside tire service for all types of vehicles, including large rigs, so they have many regular customers. They said they have lost business from customers who believed Gabe Carter died.
"One guy told me he didn't call on us for tires because he thought my family was preparing for a funeral," Gabe said.
A customer from Mississippi noticed a company business card at a service station a few years ago. Thinking Gabe Carter was dead, the customer called to ask if they are still in business.
"I answered the phone, and it blew his mind," Gabe said.
Another customer "nearly fell out of her chair" when Gabe walked into her business to make a delivery, Monica said.
She said a customer in Hazel Green was shocked when he stopped by for a surprise visit.
"She said, 'I swear I thought I had a dead man walk in,' " she said.
The Carters learned about the current rumor Tuesday and have received calls from as far away as Greenhill and Tuscumbia.
One of the company employees answered the phone when a customer called to ask about Gabe's death. The worker had no idea about the rumor and thought the customer was joking.
"He replied, 'Gabe said he'd give me two-week's notice first,'" Gabe said.
The Carters have tried to keep a sense of humor about the rumors, but said it also has been upsetting.
"(Tuesday), a guy I used to work with — a dear friend of mine — called up here and was really torn up about it," Gabe said.
In addition, Gabe Carter's father died in January, so this brings back painful memories.
Gabe said his health is fine, and he hasn't had any brushes with death. He said he does wonder if someone is starting the rumors for negative reasons.
"It has cost me money," he said. "It has cost me tire sales. This is how I make a living."