Transcript of a 911 Call



Okay, so let me say that, first off, this is not the ENTIRE call. I am changing the guy’s name, and I am changing the name of the local bar to “Cheers”. I am also ommitting one or two sentences that might give away the details of this particular accident, such as the series of questions where we established the make/model of his vehicle, and the location of the car accident.

That said… I found this particular call so funny that when it was over I played it back on the recorder and wrote it down word-for-word. Are you ready? Here, let me set the scene for you.

It was about midnight on a Friday night, and we’d already received several phone calls of a particularly bad accident that had occurred on one of our city streets. Officers were already enroute to the scene, which contained a truck that had smashed into the center divider and flipped over. Amazingly, none of the passengers of the truck seemed to be injured, but several of the witnesses expressed concern, because the passengers seemed to be trying to flip the truck back over, probably in order to drive away from the scene. Officers were nearly there when I received this call, from the owner of the vehicle:

Me: Your vehicle flipped over?

John Doe (in very, very slurred, drunken tones):
Yes.

pause, while he speaks in muffled tones to someone nearby. Then…

John: No need for ambulance, just an officer to assess the situation, cuz I was
not driving and that’s it.

Me: Who was driving?

John: Uh… I don’t know the name… (speaking to someone else, in a loud, drunken whisper) What’s your full name, dude?

(Another pause, then back to full volume in his slurred tones)

John: Uh, I don’t know the full name, but, just, uh, just the officer as soon as possible to get out here.

Me: So, you don’t know who was driving your car.

John: No. The sooner the better, let’s put it that way.

Me: Okay, yeah, we’re on our way. So.. you got in the car, and you don’t know
who was driving your car?

John: Not at all.

Me: So you got in the car with a stranger.

(Silence.)

John: Oh. Cops coming, paramedics coming, we’re all good.

Me: No, John, who was driving your car? What was the person’s name?

John: What?

Me: You got in a car and you don’t know who was driving it?

(Silence)

Me, more forcefully: And you don’t know who was driving it?

John: No, not at all.

Me: So, then where did you meet this stranger?

John: At Cheers.

Me: Okie doke. I’ll let you talk with the officers.

John: Thanks, Sweetheart. Bye.

At this point, I figured since he’d confessed on a recorded line that he’d met this COMPLETE stranger at a bar, I should let him go to talk to the officers. Now, this may come as a complete surprise, but I’m afraid I have to let you know that it turned out John was lying, and that he had been driving. Even worse, it appears he was actually under the influence of alcohol when he was driving it (Gasp. Shock. Surprise).

I found this to be one of my more entertaining calls, because this fellow actually expected me to believe that he just sauntered out of a bar, and WOW! There’s a stranger in his truck! A stranger to drive him home! How incredibly convenient! So, there’s John, happily toasted and of course not driving (why, it’s illegal to drink and drive!), and there’s the fortuitous stranger, and there’s the truck…. and then, unfortunately, there was the accident.

What a pity that seatbelts tend to leave bruises if you’re in a serious-enough accident, and that those bruises tend to mark both the driver and the passenger differently. All it took was two light pokes to make John confess— first, one to his perfectly healthy right shoulder, and then a second light poke to his very sore, very tender left shoulder, from where the driver’s shoulder harness had kept him from flying through the windshield. Oh, well. Poor John. Better luck next time!

Advertisements

Edward: My Pet Dead Deer


Yes, yes, I know. Nobody has a pet dead deer… Nobody normal, that is. But I’ve never claimed to be normal, so let me finally tell the sad tale of Edward, my pet dead deer.

I was living up in Northern California on a Morgan/Warmblood horse ranch. I was also trying to put myself through school by working two jobs. My first job was as a server at a local Olive Garden, and my second job was as the livestock manager at Flower Horse farm.

“Livestock manager” may seem like a fancy title, but my basic job consisted of feeding and keeping an eye on the ever-mischievous horses that filled the property. I’d say about ninety percent of my time consisted of running around behind them, attempting to keep up with the fences that they continually managed to break through. I’ve never met a group of horses that liked to wander more. I think it was because there were so many yearlings that they became the horsie-equivalent of a group of unruly junior-high kids, all egging each other onto greater and greater heights of bad behavior.  

“Come on, guys,” they’d snort to one another, “Becky’s sleeping. Let’s see if we can push our way through this section of fence and break into the rose garden. I bet I can break through faster than you can!”

Warrior, one of the warmbloods, was one of the worst instigators. Here’s a picture of him:

He was bored a lot, and he would get Fox, who was like his big older brother, and drag him into all sorts of trouble. Fox was an unbelievable horse. He never spooked, he never set a foot wrong— he was just 17 hands of 2 year old sweetness, with one of the most incredible dressage trots I’ve ever seen. I swear Warrior would drag him into the mischief just because he knew I couldn’t truly get angry at Fox.

Just because I can, here’s a picture of Fox:

Anyways, they were little hooligans, but also pretty darn incredible.

I’m getting off topic. This is supposed to be about Edward. Where do I start?

Ah, yes. It all started on a dark, and stormy night….

Okay, I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t stormy, but it was definitely dark. I was driving home from closing at the local Olive Garden, which if my memory serves me correctly, means that it was past midnight by the time I managed to drive my little truck up that steep, steep hill to my house. My truck always struggled to make it to the top, and I never really knew when I was going to find a large herd of yearlings tromping up my front yard. So, you can imagine my relief when I made it home to find the horses safely penned and fed, and everything nice and quiet.  

Aaaaah… Home, Sweet Home. I could almost taste sleep.

I made it inside, took my customary nightly shower (Olive Garden smells yummy when you’re hungry. It does NOT make for yummy-smelling sheets), and put on my fluffy, blue cow robe.

It was then that I heard the barking. Now, of course, on a 14 acre horse ranch, you have to have some dogs. I mean, you can’t have horses without dogs, right? Well, this pack of dogs loved to chase the horses (much to my dismay), but since there was no real way to keep them from doing it, and since they never hurt them, I mostly just let them be. Listening to the traveling sounds of the barking pack was a common sound on the farm.

That night, however, something was different.

Bark, Bark, Barkbarkbarkbark… Bark, Bark, Barkbarkbarkbark…. Bark, Bark, Barkbarkbarkbark… I’d heard my little Old English Sheepdog-mix bark plenty of times in the past, but I’d never heard her bark like that. High, insistent, breathy with excitement… it was like the sound was being torn from her throat in a delirium of high emotions.

Uh-oh.

Now, I’m not normally a flighty girl. I’m used to living on my own, and I’m used to taking care of my own stuff. So, being the resourceful young Becky that I was, I immediately grabbed my flashlight and a pair of mud boots, and headed outside to see what the trouble was.

Of course the flashlight wasn’t working… why should it work? I actually NEEDED it to work, so naturally the batteries were dead. It was a very dark night, and the farm was situated at the top of the mountain, more than a mile of forest foilage between us and the nearest neighbor. And, of course, it was a new moon night, so the darkness was more than complete.  

Great, I thought.What do I use for light? I searched around for a little bit, before coming up with a brilliant solution. My cell phone! I could flip it open, and use the light that comes from the backscreen to help illuminate the darkness. With my cow robe and my mud boots, I headed outside to give it a try.

Sure enough, it was actually dark enough that it worked. I flipped it open, held it in front of me, and shined it around for a few seconds. It went dark, so I closed it, and flipped it open again. It worked quite well, so with my floppy mud boots, I began to make my way up the very, very dark road, holding my cell phone out in front of me, flipping it open and shut like some sort of talisman.

“Hello? Helllooooo?” I made my way slowly to the ever-changing location of the barking dogs, their din muffled by distance.

“Hello?” I called out, raising my voice. “Is someone there?” The way I figured it, the only thing that could get the dogs this riled-up was if they had found an intruder on the property. “Helllllllloooo?”

Wait a second…

A very disturbing thought occurred to me suddenly… If this were a movie, isn’t this the scene where the stupid young woman gets killed? Everyone’s been in the movie theater, where some dumb blonde–You know the blonde with the unusually-perky bosoms? The one who sleeps in makeup, and wears uncomfortable, sexy-little pajamas, even though she lives alone?

Yeah, you know the blonde I’m talking about— anyway, THAT blonde bimbette hears a sound outside her window, and starts going towards it, despite her fear. The audience squirms in their seats, muttering to themselves… Go back, Stupid Woman! Don’t go towards the sound! You’re such a MORON! Go back! Run away! The young moronic blonde never does go back, though, and she always ends up stabbed to death by some homicidal maniac. Most of us feel absolutely no pity for that girl. What a moron–she totally deserved to die.

Well, that was my disturbing though–Wait a second….. I’M THAT GIRL. There I was, in a stupid cow robe, trying to use my stupid cell phone to light the stupid dark night, and calling out “Hello?” in my stupid, scared girl voice. What a MORON I was!

I made it back to my house as quickly as possible, and finally settled on a butcher knife as the deadliest weapon I owned. I would have loved to have owned a Magnum .357, or something like that, but a butcher knife was all I had. So, armed with my sharp kitchenware and my little cell phone, I headed back off into the night. This time, though, instead of calling out for the bad guys to find me, I concentrated on trying to sneak up on the still-yelping dogs. I could hear them coming closer to me, so I paused, half-hidden behind the feed truck that stored bales of alfalfa.

And that’s when I saw it.

Backlit briefly by the the far-off barn light, I saw a figure. It was a four-legged figure (Thank heavens! No homicidal maniacs on Flower Horse Farm that night!), and it rushed out of the light so quickly that it took me a few seconds for my brain to register what I had seen… but by the time the dogs had finished streaming by that light, chasing after the now-invisible figure like some sort of Discovery Channel episode…Well, by the time that had happened, I had the figure narrowed down to two possible animals:

It was either a small deer, or it was one of the Morgan weanling colts…. and I had distinctly seen the entrails dangling out of its stomach in the brief moment it had been illuminated.

Oh, Lord. What was I going to do? If it was a deer, there was nothing I could do about it, and I did NOT want to have to hunt down a dying, bleeding deer, armed only with the light of my cell phone. What would I do if I found it? Did I really have the guts to put it out of its misery if I did find it? It’s one thing to put an animal out of its misery with a gun… it’s another thing to have to cut its throat. I knew that the chances of it surviving were slim, even if I could find a veterinarian to take care of it…. and I really didn’t know if I had it in me to be able to take the life of such a large animal, even if it was a good cause. I was recently moved to the area, so I didn’t have any friends I could call. Wouldn’t it just be better to, uhhh, let nature take its course, and let the dogs catch it?

But what if it wasn’t a deer? What if it WAS one of the Morgan colts, and one of the dogs had snapped, and attacked it instead of just chasing it? What if it was one of the even younger Warmblood babies? Even if I could make myself ignore it (don’t worry… I would never be able to), I knew the doctor wouldn’t appreciate me just letting one of potentially 20-30 thousand dollar horses die, simply because I was afraid.  Besides, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I did.

Do you ever have one of those moments you reaaaaaaaally wish you were somewhere else?

Well, that was one of those nights. If it had been a Choose-Your-Own Adventure book, I probably would have flipped back to the choice I made before (Come on! We all did that, didn’t we?) and tried again. But, unfortunately, life isn’t like that.

So, I did what I had to do.

As you can probably tell from the title, it wasn’t a horse. It was a deer— a young, mule deer. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that I found the deer before the dogs did, and mercifully, he was dead. Even better than that, he had, uh, caught himself when he’d tried to jump the fence, and was safely on the other side of the fence, where the dogs couldn’t get to him. I left the dogs to stare at their “kill” overnight, and went to bed. It was cold that night— in the low 30s — and the deer would “keep” until sunrise.

Well, sunrise came, and I woke up, knowing what I had to do. I lured the dogs away from the deer by feeding them inside the main house, fed the horses, did every chore humanely possible to postpone the inevitable, and finally returned to the scene of the crime.

I remember staring at the hanging deer, thinking that I had NO idea what to do. Come on… I grew up in Orange County. They don’t exactly teach this sort of stuff to you in schools. I knew the deer couldn’t stay on our property, because I didn’t have the tools to dig a deep-enough hole that the dogs wouldn’t be able to dig it up.

But where would I dispose of it? The neighbors wouldn’t appreciate the deer carcass on their property any more than I appreciated it on mine.

I finally decided that first things were first, and I needed to get the deer into the back of my truck, before deciding what to do. So, I put on a VERY thick pair of gloves, tied a rope around the deer’s neck, dragged it back over to our side of the fence, and started dragging it up the hill after me. I was just about to toss it in the back of my truck, when I heard the unmistakable sound of a car coming up the steep hill.
 
OH CRUD.

I had completely forgotten that a banker-type-person was coming up to the ranch to do an appraisal on the property, and I was supposed to show him around. Now, I’m no real estate expert, but I was pretty sure that sight of a grubby Becky dragging a deer carcass behind her on a rope wouldn’t make a very good impression. So, what did I do? I shoved the deer in the closest place I could, which ended up being an empty two-horse trailer, and dashed off to my house to attempt to look presentable (as well as to wash my hands.)

Showing the gentleman around took the rest of the morning, and by the time he left, it was time for me to go to work at Olive Garden. Since I didn’t know what to do with the deer, and I couldn’t exactly leave a deer carcass in the back of my truck in front of such a fine dining establishment, so…..well…. The deer would have to wait it out in the trailer until I got back from work.

Now, here’s where the real story begins. I worked really late that night as well, and do you want to know a little secret? After a long day at work, and with NOBODY around to make the job less creepy than it actually was, I had absolutely NO desire to start playing around with a dead deer.  It was past midnight when I got home that night. Like I said, I had no desire to take care of the job.  None. There’s something that’s MUCH creepier about a dead body at nighttime, as I’m sure you can all agree.

So, I left the deer till morning.

But do you want to know what? When morning came, I realized that I was going to have to toss the deer on the side of the road (the farm was situated off of a mountain road), and that I needed the cover of darkness to make certain I didn’t get caught. I’m not sure if depositing the body of a large dead animal on the side of the road is considered littering, but I didn’t want to find out.  I definitely couldn’t afford the ticket.

So, that night, I vowed to myself to just suck it up, and take care of it when I came home from work.

But do you know what? When I came home from Olive Garden that night… well, I just couldn’t do it. It was too dark, and there was just nobody around. It’d already been so long, and the nights were so cold… one more night wouldn’t hurt, right? I’d just get up really early in the morning, and do it before anybody was out on the road! Yeah, that’s what I would do!

But do you know what? In the morning, it was just too light, and I realized the foolishness of my plan. I would have to do it that night, when I came home from work….

And thus began the reign of Edward, my pet dead deer. I don’t know whether you’ve read my entry on procrastination, but let me tell you— I am the QUEEN of putting things off.

SIX WEEKS I lived with Edward.

SIX WEEKS I told myself that I would take care of it that night, or that morning.

I became fascinated with Edward, in a disgusting sort of a way. I would peek in through the windows of that little two-horse trailer every morning, and every evening, staring at him in a sort of horrified awe. I began talking to him whenever my ranch work was situated near him. It seemed only natural to give him a name, to make the conversation flow easier. It started innocently enough, with me making empty promises about returning him to the wild from whence he came. 

“Edward,” I would say, “Edward, I really need to do something about you. You deserve better than this. Tonight’s the night. Tonight I am definitely going to put you by that little bend in the road I have picked out for you. You’ll like it. Tonight. I promise.

Our relationship soon progressed beyond my fruitless promises, into a deeper sort of a camaraderie. “Edward, have you seen where I put that shovel? I’m serious, Edward, if I don’t get that stable cleaned out in the next ten minutes, I’m going to be late for work…” It was kind of nice having him around to chat with. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was within hearing distance, because… hey! Dead deer don’t hear. I could chatter to Edward from across the yard, and never worry about a thing (except, perhaps, for whether or not this sort of behavior classified me as psychotic).

Okay, okay, I know I’m sick. But I didn’t know what else to do. I mean, I couldn’t imagine Edward didn’t exist, because he did. There was less of him each day, but the process was a slow one, and frankly, it was disgusting. What else could I do but make a joke out of the situation? Somehow I let the whole Edward situation slip out of me in front of my Olive Garden coworkers, and then I had them as well as my guilty conscience hounding me to take care of poor Edward.

Despite that, the situation might have gone on indefinitely, if it weren’t for a sudden warming in the temperature. The doctor and I were standing by the trailer one day, discussing future plans for the ranch, when suddenly… Oh, Lord. Was that EDWARD smelling like that? Apparently I wasn’t the only one who caught a whiff, because the doctor suddenly looked around. “What’s that smell?” She looked like she as about to hunt it down, and I was preparing my river of excuses, when mercifully a friend of hers came up the drive. Phew! Saved, but just barely!

It was the wakeup call I needed.

Early the next morning, armed with a tarp, a broom, and covered from head-to-toe in disposable clothing, I took what was left of poor Edward (as well as the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of maggots and little insects that had taken up residence in his body), and I laid him to rest at a bend in road, where the trees made an arch. He was far enough off the road that nobody would see him, but not so far that he was on anybody’s property. The whole thing went off without a hitch, and on the entire drive back I chewed myself out for not doing it sooner. I cleaned the entire inside of the trailer, and to this day I don’t think the good doctor knows about the tenant that lived inside of there for almost two months.

So, there. That’s the story of Edward. I can’t believe I’m sharing my pathetic procrastination tendencies with the world, but there you go. Edward, old buddy, may you rest in peace.

Navigation: Top | Table of Contents

On Being a 911 Dispatcher



Have I ever mentioned that I used to answer 911 phone calls for a big city ? No? Well. Let me tell you— it’s an experience.

First off, let me say that I’m changing small aspects of every story that I share, to protect the public’s innocence… oh, screw it. I’m actually just omitting enough information to keep me from ever getting sued, not that whoever decided to sue would actually get any money. Nope. If they ever wanted to sue me, they’re welcome to have all that I own— my unpaid college loans, my 12×12 bedroom that I’m renting, my broken-down vehicle that I keep neglecting to put in the paper…. What can I say? I’m a giving person.

So, that said, let me spill the beans. Did you know that the human race, on a whole, is incredibly stupid? It’s true. Here, let me use a Hollywood quote to further illustrate my point. Who out there in Internet land has ever seen Men in Black? Do you remember the scene in which Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) is speaking with Jay (Will Smith) about whether or not the human race should know the truth about alien activity on earth? Well, this is the quote:

Jay: Why the big secret? People are smart, they can handle it.

Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.

I’m here to tell you: IT’S TRUE. Now, if you imagine the life of a 911 dispatcher, you get this mental picture of a harried woman, trying to be heard over the screams of a crime victim. I know when I signed on for the job, that’s kind of how I imagined it. I had this imaginary image of me, hunched over a desk, with a fancy headset, fingers poised on the keyboard as I struggled to get valuable information.

Me (into the telephone): “Tell me where you are! Tell me where you are! Is the murderer still there? Where are you?!”

Victim: “AAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH….” Gasp, Choke, Death.

Me (in a calm, only slightly-stressed voice): “Delta Two-Bravo, the victim is non-responsive. Be advised that there are two suspects unaccounted for, last seen heading westbound on…”

Anyways, you get the picture. But ohhhhh… let me tell you. Nothing could be further from the truth. Do you know how I spent the majority of my time when I was plugged into the phone lines? Well, let me illustrate a normal 911 phone call (this isn’t word for word, but it’s the best I can remember of an actual phone call.)

Me: “911 Emergency. Do you need police, fire, or paramedics?”

Irate Citizen: “You guys need to get down here right now, and tell my neighbor to..”

Me (interrupting): “Sir, do you need police, fire, or paramedics?”

Irate Citizen: “Uhhh.. Police. Police. Yeah, I need you guys to come down here and tell my bleepity-bleep neighbor to turn his bleepity-bleep cell phone down. I work for a living, and I have to be up in the morning, and I’m sick and tired of waking up at midnight with hit bleepity-bleep ringtone…”

Me (interrupting in exasperation): “Sir, is this a life or death emergency?”

Irate Citizen: “What?”

Me: “Sir, you called 911. This is an emergency line, reserved for life-or-death emergencies. Do you have one?”

Irate Citizen: “THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. YOU FOLKS NEED TO COME DOWN HERE AND TELL MY NEIGHBOR TO TURN DOWN HIS CELL PHONE. I work for a living, and I have to get up in the morning, and I don’t need this kind of thing to keep me up…” Etc, etc, etc.

Frankly, I don’t remember exactly how this call ended. I’m sure that at some point he said something about how he pays my taxes, and how the police never do anything, blah, blah, blah.

I’m sure it took me at least a minute or two before I could get him to be quiet long enough to call back on a non-emergency line, and if I remember correctly, I was the one who picked up that non-emergency line and explained to him the difference between criminal and civil law, and how it’s not the police department’s job to tell his neighbor to turn down his cell phone, etc, etc, etc. (If you’re curious, I can explain the difference between criminal and civil law another time.

Oh, and by the way, I offered to have an officer standby to keep the peace while he told his neighbor himself, but that wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t HIS job to talk to his neighbor about it, it was ours.)

I do remember growing frustrated, because after he screamed about how incompetent we all were, and how he actually had to work for a living (What the heck? We worked 11.5 hour shifts, and a lot of the other dispatchers who were finished with their training were putting in fifteen hour days on a regular basis, due to mandatory overtime), and how he paid his taxes which meant that he essentially believed that he owned our SOULS because we worked for him…

Anyways, after ALL that, I still couldn’t get him to understand that 911 Emergency really is for life-or-death emergencies only.

The public, for the most part, doesn’t seem to understand that basic fact. Now, PEOPLE seem to understand that, but the public doesn’t.

How do I know this? Well, whenever I talk with my normal, fellow citizens that I encounter in my everyday life, they all seem to grasp that simple concept. I have NEVER met anybody in normal life that misunderstands the simple concept of using a 911 line.

When I was at work, however…Well. Let me put it this way: I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what rock the majority of these people crawled out from underneath. Where did they hide during the rest of the day? When I walk around city streets, or stand in line at the grocery store, or any other generic day-to-day place, it’s very, very rare to actually meet someone who’s overtly rude, or just downright dumb.

But folks, I’m telling you— I took at least five stupid calls a day. That’s five stupid calls….at the VERY least. And when I’m saying stupid, I mean STUPID. Where did they come from? Where do they go? Where are they hiding? And for that matter, how in the WORLD are they surviving?

Now, before you start saying that I’m jaded, or anything like that, let me illustrate my point with a simple test. I’m going to jot a quick list of possible reasons to call 911. Your job, as the reader, is simple: After reading each example, decide for yourself whether or not you think it’s a valid reason to call 911.

Okay, are you ready? Here goes:

#1: You are a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy, trapped in the upstairs of your house. You think you just heard someone break in downstairs, and your husband (who you know is out working) didn’t answer his cell phone. All of the neighbors on your street are either out, or not answering their phones. There’s no way down except for the narrow hallway, and you think you hear the person on the stairs.

#2: You want directions to Disneyland.

#3: There’s a seal on the beach, and because you have momentarily forgotten that there is a difference between a seal and a whale/dolphin, you are worried that the seal is going to die before it can make its way back into the water. Don’t worry, though… as you are calling 911, you are running back and forth from the ocean to the stranded seal, filling up your water bottle with sea water and dousing the wild, potentially dangerous creature. Hint: When calling 911, make sure to advise your local 911 dispatcher in proud tones that the seal’s skin shows no signs of cracking yet, so you think that it still has a good chance of making it due to your excellent ministrations.

#4: Your bumper on your neighbor’s car has, for the MILLIONTH time, extended at least 8 inches into your driveway, and the police, as usual, have done NOTHING about it, even though your taxes pay their bloated salaries. The car has been there for at least two hours, and not one single officer (whose salary is paid by your hard work and taxes) has happened to drive by the house, noticed what’s wrong, and towed the vehicle. This lack of attention has forced you to FINALLY call about it (keep in mind this is the first time you’re actually calling the police about it instead of just complaining to your friends and family.) The dispatcher on the other end of the line appears to have absolutely no idea that this is a reoccurring problem, and that the stress of this unresolved issue is what makes this call an emergency. Doesn’t she know that your taxes pay her salary?

#5: You heard something in your alley, and, being the local concerned citizen that you are, went outside to check on it. Upon stepping outside, you saw two gentlemen siphoning gas out of your vehicle. When you asked them to stop, they pulled a knife on you and threatened you, before running away.

#6: There is a black person walking in your neighborhood. A black man! In YOUR neighborhood!!! It’s obvious he’s up to something. He’s suspicious. I mean, he’s, well, you know. Black. And in YOUR neighborhood. It’s not that you’re racist or anything, but you know he doesn’t belong there. He’s walking down the street, in his suspicious-looking vest. Be sure to mention his suspicious looking vest at least three times, without ever explaining to the dispatcher what you mean by suspicious. Oh, and make sure to get really defensive and angry when she asks you what you mean by “looks suspicious”. It’s obvious she thinks you’re racist, and you’re not. You’re not racist at all. But you know your neighbors, and none of them are, well, you know. Black. And this man, who has now walked over to his plain-looking sedan (and who has now been joined by his lovely-looking wife and two daughters), and is now driving away…well, he doesn’t belong in your neighborhood. Why? Well, because he’s suspicious-looking, that’s why!

#7: Your neighbor is urging his full-grown pit bull to attack you, because he’s angry at you. He’s taking the leash off! Oh, Crap! AAAHHH! AAAHHH!! AAAAHHHH!! *Disconnect*

#8: What time is it? What? 911 is for emergency purposes only? Oh. Well, since you’ve got the dispatcher on the line….. What time is it?

#9: You are now a different person, with a DIFFERENT seal… only this time it’s a baby seal, and you’ve picked it up and carried it over to the beach showers, and you’ve got the water running on it to keep it from drying out. It tried to bite you on the way over, but you’ve got a way with animals, so you knew how to handle it. It’s now given up trying to escape from the water in the showers, and is now just laying there. It’s nice and wet—this is a much better method than using the empty water bottle that the other citizen was using. This seal’s hide won’t get dry with you on watch!

#10: You just heard a police car drive by with its lights and sirens on. Something interesting must be going on. Who would know all the good, gossipy details? Ooh! Ooh! The police dispatcher will know. Quick! Call her, and after she asks if you need police, fire, or paramedics, ask in a REALLY interested tone, “Hey… What’s going on?”


OOOOOKAY! The test is over! Are you ready for the results?

Now, before I give the results, I would like to let you all in on a little secret: These are all real calls that I received during my short stint as a 911 operator.

Here’s the kicker though: The pregnant lady, the pit bull, and the guy who had a knife pulled on him? Those are the only ones that came in on a regular, non-emergency line. Oh, and that pit bull call? I have NO idea where that person lives, or what happened. That was one of my worst calls that I took while I was there. The lady called up our a non-emergency line in the middle of the day, refused to stop yelling about her neighbor long enough to give me an address (Every time I continued to interrupt her to ask for it, she talked over me), and then hung up her cell phone after screaming for a few seconds. It was truly terrible. Remind me never to go through that again.

The pregnant lady, who had EVERY right to have called 911 ten minutes before, kept apologizing over and over again for “bothering” us.

And the guy who had the knife pulled on him? He went inside, started drinking a beer, and then decided to call us about fifteen minutes later, only because he wanted us to be aware that people were siphoning gas in that section of town. I was almost through with the call before I managed to drag out of him the fact that there was a knife involved.

So, there you go. As for those other seven calls… come on! Even grammar-school-aged kids know that seals come out onto the sand to sun themselves. The best part of both conversations was having both people SCREAM at me that I was lying to them about the seals being fine on land, and insisting I was just too lazy to send a police officer out there. I’m sure one of them must have thrown in the fact that, yes, he/she paid my salary through their hard-earned taxes. (As one dispatcher said, since we’re getting taxed also, and those taxes are used to fund our paychecks, does that mean we’re self employed?) I can’t even count the amount of times I heard that line yelled at me, usually when I was trying to explain something that the irate citizen didn’t want to hear. I can understand being upset, but really… did the Mr. Anonymous really think that I was going to arrest all those “good-for-nothin’ Mexicans standing outside of Home Depot“? Sending an officer out to talk with them and ask them to move along wasn’t good enough…they needed to be arrested. Why? Because (and I quote!) “We don’t need that sort of thing in our city!” For goodness sakes! Like I said, what rock do these people hide themselves under, and how are they surviving in the real world?