You can know anything. It's all there. You just have to find it.

-Neil Gaiman


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

911, what is your emergency?

I've called 911 more times now than most people I know. Last Saturday I called them. Again. I didn't really want to, but here's what happened.

I was up early and threw out some trash in the can in our alley. I see that there is a bunch of junk scattered between my and my neighbor's garage. There is a baby car seat, clothes, towels, a zippered cd-case, a broken rear view mirror, an empty plastic gas can, and some papers in a folder. It looks like somebody stole a car and dumped whatever was inside the car into the alley.

I start picking stuff up. In the papers I find a birth certificate and other forms that include a name, an address, and best, a phone number.

I examine the cd case. The music selection is terrible. All rap. Not even the good stuff. No ODB, no Dr. Dre, Snoop-Dog, or Ice-T. I've never heard of these people, therefore I decide it is total crap.

I go into the house and call the phone number listed.
A guy answers, sounds like I just woke him up.

Guy: Lo?
Me: Hi, is D___ there?
Guy: No.
Me: you know when she'll be back.
Guy: Probly later.
Me: Umm...I don't know how to tell you this...Ah, I found a bunch of stuff in the alley by my house. Has her name on it. There's a birth certificate, too. Some cds.

No answer.

Me: Um, who is this?
Guy: E___
Me: Well, um, did you have your car stolen or something?
Guy: I don't think so.

At this point the guy starts swearing. It is loud and colorful and creative and I can't even begin to repeat it. I don't think he was swearing at me, he may have been talking to someone else, or just looked out the window and saw that his car was, in fact, missing.

He hangs up on me.

I stare at my phone.

I look up the number to the third precinct and call them.

Police: Hello?
Me: Um, yeah, I found some stuff in my alley and I think it was stuff that was dumped from a stolen car or something.

I describe the rest and who I called.

Me: I think the guy was still drunk or something.
Police: Okay, you have to call 911 because I can't dispatch a car from here.
Me: Okay. Thank you.

I call 911.

"911, what is your emergency?"

"Hi, I just called the third precinct and they said to call you." I say this really fast as a disclaimer because I know it isn't an emergency and I feel bad occupying an operator. For some reason I'm nervous and my throat feels tight; I feel like I'm doing something bad. I feel like this every time I call them, whether or not it was an actual emergency. Someday, if I have a gunshot wound or my house is burning down or I'm having a heart attack, it's nice to know I will still feel nervous when I talk to a 911 operator. "Hi, I'm sorry to bug you, but, well, I think I'm dying. Um, could you send somebody over here? Maybe? If you aren't too busy. Thanks."

I tell them the story. The operator is nice. "We can send a car over to pick it up."

"Okay, thank you."

The police arrive in 10 minutes. I'm impressed. They look young to me. One actually has braces. I swear to God! Braces. I'm getting to that age where people like doctors and lawyers and people in positions of authority are obviously younger than me. Last week my new dentist came in the room to check my teeth. He looked like he was twenty-two. And he was somewhat cute. I'm not used to letting young, attractive men get that close to me. They are supposed to buy me a drink first. I felt like saying, "Dammit, Sonny, you better get that goll-danged metal pick out of my mouth if you know what's good for you! Kids, today!" Mmmpf.

So the police gather up the stuff and decide to head up the street to the address which was only about 6 blocks away. Lest you think I live in some crime-ridden blighted neighborhood where they sell crack on the corner, I will say I live in a modest south Minneapolis neighborhood that is only a few blocks from lovely Minnehaha creek. But... it's still Minneapolis. People who live in the city know what I mean by that.

Summer should be interesting.

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