We’ve heard the stories.
The distraught woman who dialed 911 because a restaurant (I won’t say which one), ran out of Chicken McNuggets.
The man who mistook the moon for a UFO.
Or the wife who called because her husband wouldn’t stop watching porn.
And there are others.
While the majority of civilized society grasps the concept of ‘emergency’ – a medical crises, crime in progress, accident, fire – some lack the faculties to differentiate need from nonsense. Or the desire to. Undeniably, in times of tremendous stress or (perceived) danger, questionable 911 calls do occur, but most are well–intentioned, if not slightly misguided.
But occasionally, like the chicken nugget lady, calls come in from dullards, self-absorbed narcissistic lug nuts who think the world around them exists for their benefit. In their eyes, civil servants, among others, are merely personal assistants.
From an early age, children in North America are taught 911 (999 in the UK), the concept ingrained in their survival skill set. Kids get it. Heartwarming stories abound of heroic tykes, some as young as 4, who, when sudden illness struck a caregiver, had the wherewithal to dial 911, saving the day. Inspiring.
But somewhere along the path to adulthood, for those few, a cerebral disconnect occurred. Lessons learned in childhood dissolved and morphed into an aura of self-absorption, replaced by the inability to think, rationalize, or act reasonably. Their brain’s circuitry, overridden by selfishness and sheer dimwittedness, dispensed with logic in favor of an ever looping personal mantra of; “my trivial inconsequence trumps your legitimate emergency”.
These are people who cannot exist without 24/7 support, intervention, and 911 on their speed dial. Yes, on their speed dial.
“Police, fire, ambulance, how may I direct your call?”
Making matters worse, once the outraged half-wit realizes an emergency response is not forthcoming, a cataclysmic tirade of foul-mouthed banter usually ensues. Clever nuggets of critical disdain resembling; “I’m a tax payer, I pay your wages”, or “I want to speak to your f&c*ing Supervisor”, spew forth in unmetered, barbaric eloquence.
“911, what is your emergency?”
Unwarranted 911 calls place a burden on an already strained essential service, consuming critical resources and causing delays and increased response time for true emergencies. Add to this the cumulative stress placed on call takers who have to deal with these indiscriminate morons, and the negative impact is compounded.
And yet the calls still come.
Occasionally, abusers of the 911 system are held accountable, but not always. Many ignore the warnings, meandering off, blissfully unaware, not caring, not interested. All they take away from the experience is reaffirmation that cops are pricks (police bare the lion’s share of complaints), and that their tax dollars are a joke.
They learn nothing.
While some remain beyond redemption, destined to repeat behaviour, salvation awaits the open-minded. For those still confused, baffled, or indifferent, the answer is not complicated. The difference between a justified call to 911 and a call better handled by mom, a therapist, or your AA sponsor, lies simply in the definition of ‘emergency’.
“An unexpected and usually dangerous situation that calls for immediate action”.
In other words,
911 is not a civil dispute resolution service.
911 is not an impromptu counselling session.
911 is not a sounding board for inebriated jackasses.
911 is not how you report being shortchanged by a vending machine.
Until next time,
“Thank you for calling, and have a wonderful day… as*hole.”