I remember the first time I ever called 911. I lived in a really shady part of Austin, and there was someone blatantly driving drunk. In a span of about 1000 feet, the guy nearly caused three accidents. As he approached the road, he pulled into oncoming traffic and proceeded toward a very busy road.
This wasn’t in the age of cell phones, so I pulled over and dialed the three numbers that were drilled into our little heads when we were wee ones. I guess I expected the operator to be like, “Oh crap! That’s dangerous, and we’re on it!”
Sadly, I was mistaken. She was annoyed that I couldn’t tell her where the guy was intending to go. I had his car’s make, model, and license plate; however, I couldn’t read his booze-riddled brain to say anything more than he was heading toward Riverside Dr.
Fortunately I moved to a better part of town and never had to call Austin’s 911 operators again.
Several years later, I found myself living in Chicago. Although I lived in the wealthiest zipcode around, with a big city comes big city problems. Also, with a big city comes a kick-ass response time and professionals who do their job in and out.
I call, they gather the proper information, and someone’s there within minutes.
Some jackasses are beating the crap out of some other jackasses in River North. BAM! The cops are there, pulling jackass off of jackass.
Each time I called, the operator was efficient, helpful, and totally on top of things.
When I found myself in New Caney, Texas at the start of 2009, I knew a lot about my life was going to be different. However, the professionalism of one’s local 911 operators never crossed my mind.
Ya know, it’s not like I go around calling 911, having the police check on windows left open, cars parked for too long, or kids loitering on corners. The three times I called 911 while living in Montgomery County, I was met with absolute contempt.
In one instance, a brush fire just broke out. I told the operator it was about 2 miles west of a large intersection, and she gave me lip about needing a cross street. If you’re familiar with New Caney, you are probably laughing right now. Cross streets? When directions are told in the manner of telling someone to turn left at the third cow pasture, cross streets aren’t exactly known. Add to it that this particular road is just long, and, well, that’s that. I did my part in reporting it. Any subsequent damage is off my conscious.
The second time I called was to have the police retrieve a man who was riding a bicycle down the center of a very busy road. It was dark, he was weaving, and his bike was — HELLO — riding down the yellow line. I called and said something like, “Could you please send a cop to come get the drunk guy riding down the center stripe on the loop on his bike?” and was shot back, “How do you know he’s drunk?!”
Look, I wasn’t hoping for the Montgomery County police department to come swarming out and arresting this law-breaking citizen. Mostly I just wanted them to take him off the road so he doesn’t accidentally get hit. If nothing else, I’m saving the county time and effort: getting a drunk guy off his bike is a lot less messy than sweeping brain off the street.
The third time I called was to report a case of road rage where someone tried to run me off the road, and then got out of his vehicle to threaten me. I don’t know what this hillbilly thought I did, but I wanted them to have his license plate number if I was going to be shot.
This 911 operator told me that he was probably having a bad day, and to just go about my business and let him go about his. I could, of course, have an officer come to home to take a statement. But I should know that nothing would come of it because it’s my word against the hillbilly’s. It’s the truth, yes, but can you say:
Less than an hour later, I was on an airplane leaving that godforsaken shithole. It was fine timing for getting the frig outta there.
I now live in a new city. Things here are pretty quiet. After all, I live in the suburbs with a bunch of upper-middleclass families. I’d make some quip about how the worst thing to happen in this area would be jaywalking, but the police presence every single night after 11 p.m. tells me otherwise.
Drunk driving is #1 around here.
Tonight I met up with a friend. He had already been there a few hours, throwing back the beers. I sipped my hot tea while talking with another bar patrons, noting that he was nodding off, clumsy in his stool, and talking jibberish.
My, “All right, big guy. I’m driving you home,” was met with resistance. Dropping him off is not an issue at all. Taking him to his car tomorrow morning before work also isn’t a deterrent from taking up my offer. We went back and forth a couple times, and then he started toward my car.
He hit the wall. He walked into a chair. He hit the server’s station. Once outside the restaurant’s patio, he nearly fell off the curb. I asked if that was enough proof that he should ride with me, again saying that I’d drive him to his car as soon as he woke up, and he got even more insistent.
I grabbed his arm. I yelled at him. He grabbed and yelled back. I said that I was now seeking assistance and that he should expect to see the cops if he tried to drive home. I went back to the restaurant, and 911 was called.
When I went back to my car, he wasn’t around. Driving down the road back toward our homes, he wasn’t walking. I don’t know what he chose to do, but I guarantee there was a police car looking for a grey Xterra around the restaurant.
I don’t care if we are friends, I will call 911 when you drive drunk.