How many times have we all heard that truth is much more difficult to believe than fiction? Well, let me be the next person in line to confirm that statement. I say so because, well, just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, these folks picked up the phone and dialed 911 (yes, I was the unfortunate officer who responded to these “emergency” calls).
So, without further ado …
“Help me, please!”
“Ma’am, I can’t understand you. Please try to calm down and tell me what’s wrong.”
“My house is on fire! I just moved in today and turned on the heat and, and, and, that big metal thing in my living room caught on fire, please huuurrrrryyy! There are flames inside and it’s getting hot! Huuurrrryyy!!! Oh, God, oh God, oh God … MY CAT’S GONNA DIE!”
Luckily, I was nearby and told dispatch I’d take the call. I arrived in less than five minutes.
“10-4. I’m there now. The caller is on the front porch. I don’t see any signs of fire, but she’s frantic. Stand by.”
She’s standing on the front porch with the front door wide open. It’s 20 degrees outside and all she has on is a t-shirt. Nothing but a t-shirt. And she’s crying and screaming and begging me to go inside to rescue her cat, a cat that was trapped in “the inferno.”
I step inside.
“See, it’s on fire. Look through that little glass and you can see the flames.”
“Ma’am, that’s your heater. It uses fire to warm your home. It’s perfectly safe.”
That’s when she realized she was wearing nothing “butt” a t-shirt.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“I think my house is on fire.”
“You think your house is on fire? Do you see flames or smoke?”
“No, but my wall’s hot. Would you please send someone over to check it out?”
I go to the door and peek inside through the small glass pane near the top. The gentleman was seated in a chair watching Jeopardy.
“Thanks for coming officer. My house may be on fire. The wall is hot. See. Feel right here.”
“Sir, you have a roaring fire going in the fireplace. Naturally, the wall above those flames may get a little warm.”
“Thank you, officer. That never occurred to me.”
“Please help me! I’ve been locked inside my bathroom for several hours and can’t get out. I’m getting really hungry, too. And I’m pregnant. Please help me!”
I broke a glass beside the front door and turned the deadbolt latch (see how easy it would be for burglars—use a keyed deadbolt for better security, but remove the key from the lock and store in a safe, easily-remembered place).
Then, with easy access, I opened the front door and stepped inside. Sure enough, she’s locked inside the master bathroom and she’s crying. Full blown sobbing.
“I think I’m going to lose my baby because I’m so upset.”
We exchange puzzled glances, then I said …
“Ma’am, did you try turning the little button in the center of the knob?”
“I think I have it now. Thank you for coming by.”
“911, what is your emergency?”
“Yeah, um … would you send a cop over here right away, please. I just moved into this apartment and can’t figure out how to turn up the cold water temperature on my kitchen sink. It’s too cold and the landlord won’t help. He just hangs up on me.”
I politely explained to the gentleman that water temperatures are not a true emergency and that cold water temperatures occur naturally. They are what they are because tap water is piped directly from the city. He responded by telling me that I’m a waste of taxpayer money and that I’m part of the reason the country is going down the toilet. Another place where the water temperature is non-adjustable.
Finally, my once or twice monthly call.
“You gotta send someone over right away. Elvis is back inside my refrigerator and he won’t stop singing. He keeps up that wild racket all night long.”
And, while working in plainclothes, I sometimes heard …
“Are you a cop? Because if you are you have to tell me now that I’ve asked. You’re not, cool. Now we can do business. You say you want two kilos … hey, wait a minute, you can’t arrest me because you lied about being a cop. This isn’t legal!”