In elementary school, adults were all like “Don’t call 911 unless it is an EMERGENCY!” and they made the consequences of calling during a non-emergency seem extremely dire. Basically to the point where I find myself questioning the validity of seemingly emergency situations to this day.
While I know useless 911 calls are not punishable by death (proved, quite poignantly, by an ex’s young cousin from the Philippines, who tried to order pizza but instead contacted the authorities – apparently the phone number for the local pizza joint in Manila starts with 9-1-1), but I still run through about 12 million scenarios before picking up the phone to call for help. Scenarios like, I was trained in infant CPR! Okay, it was like 12 years ago – and I’ve only ever done it on a plastic baby doll, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Oh wait; or I’m sure someone’s already called this shit in; or how allergic to peanuts is this guy, really?
Needless to say, 911 operators don’t hear from me a lot. Well, twice, actually – until yesterday.
My first ever 911 call was not in the least bit funny or entertaining – in fact, it was pretty damn traumatizing – so I’ll just omit that whole story.
My second was absolutely fantastic – and I daresay I wish I had the whole thing on video, because there is nothing quite like yelling “I’M GOING TO CALL THE COPS!” at a tiny Japanese man, who is clinging to the hood of his wife’s Prius, and screaming back: “SHE’S LEAVING ME FOR ANOTHER MAN!” in a thick accent.
(I have to admit, I handled this quiet nicely. The security guard even thanked me – he had lost his phone or something – and the 911 operator was completely riveted by my compelling description. Plus I saved said Japanese dude’s life. Though, sadly, probably not his marriage.)
My third 911 call was a complete disaster, however. Total and complete FAIL.
Yesterday afternoon, my roommate and I decided that the perfect after work snack was a big cup of frozen yogurt from Yogurtland in Long Beach. And, upon finishing our yogurt, we decided that the perfect dessert was an order of garlic French fries from La Creperie. (How we both aren’t 300 pounds is anyone’s guess.)
While on our way back home, I discovered that my roommate is even worse off when it comes to deciphering whether a situation merits a 911 call. Yes. WORSE.
To be fair, I’m pretty sure she thought I was just insane.
I had just gotten onto the 47 freeway towards San Pedro, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man splayed out on his back – sans car, companions, or motorcycle – in the right shoulder. I scream.
My roommate screams back, because I’ve startled her.
DID YOU JUST SEE THAT GUY ON THE SIDE OF THE FREEWAY?!!! I yell.
You scared me! she says.
WELL, YEAH, THERE’S A GUY LYING ON THE SIDE OF THE FREEWAY! SHOULD WE CALL 911??!!!
Sadly, this conversation denigrated into the least helpful conversation on the planet. It wasn’t until later that I realized my roommate had not even seen the man on the side of the freeway, and basically thought I was fucking bonkers – which, if I had known that, what ensued might have made a tad bit more sense.
Roommate: Maybe he’s homeless.
Me: Why does that make a difference?! Homeless men don’t lie on the freeway!
Roommate: Well, maybe he’s a serial killer. Or a pedophile! Yeah, he was a bus driving pedophile, and the children mutinied, and threw him off the bus – and now they’ve escaped. And if you save him, YOU’RE SAVING A PEDOPHILE AND PUTTING CHILDREN IN DANGER!
Okay, so now I have gone bonkers, because I am laughing hysterically at the absurdity of this situation. I mean, there is a guy SPRAWLED OUT ON THE FREEWAY. And he might very well be dead, and it’s PROBABLY ALL MY FAULT – but my roommate is trying to convince me that it’s no big thing because the only reason he would be on the freeway is because he’s either a bum or a child rapist.
(The sad part is, we both work at a homeless shelter. You’d think we’d be slightly more compassionate towards possibly dead bums.)
Anywho, my cell phone is in the back seat, and my roommate isn’t about to listen to me and call 911 because she thinks I’m a complete nut job. So we get home, and I’m all like, shit! I need to call 911! And she’s all like, seriously? And I’m all like, FUCK THERE WAS A FUCKING BODY ON THE FREEWAY!
And then she says, Umm, oh. I didn’t even see it.
GAHHHH, so then I call 911 and try to explain to the operator that there is a man, lying on his back – yes, a man, no car – on the side of the 47 freeway. And the bitch starts asking me for the specifics! Like, where? Near an exit? Am I sure it was the 47 freeway? Was he on the Vincent Thomas Bridge? No? Well, the Vincent Thomas Bridge is the 47 freeway…
So, she basically made me feel like a total ‘tard, but as it turns out, I was right, and the 47 freeway does extend to Long Beach.
So the operator finally gets fed up with my idiocy, and connects me to the local fire department. I describe the scenario again, only to be asked how long ago the sighting took place.
Well, okay, I didn’t want to sound like a bad person – so I frantically said, five minutes ago! and she said, Well, we’re with a man on the side of the freeway now – but we got there eleven minutes ago.
Me: Oh! That must be him!
Firewoman: But you said five minutes ago. If this is a separate emergency situation…
DAMMIT! The bitch totally had me figured out. I had seen said sprawled freeway body fifteen minutes before, not five minutes before. And lord knows, this chick wasn’t so retarded that she thought there was a sudden and inexplicable sprawled-out-possibly-dead-body epidemic on the 47 freeway!
Me: Oh, no, I’m sure that must be him.
Firewoman: Well, thank you for calling it in. That’s a good thing you did.
Bitch, don’t try to rub it in – I KNOW I FAILED THE DECENT HUMAN BEING TEST. I waited 15 minutes to call in a man lying, on his back, in a high traffic zone. And I laughed at him!
So there. There it is. Your proof that I am the BIGGEST ASSHOLE EVER AND YOU SHOULD NOT TRUST ME WITH YOUR LIFE.