We all laugh when some nutjob calls 911 because McDonald's ran out of McNuggets. But the world is full of crazy people, they all own phones and 911 is the one number they all know. We shouldn't be surprised.
No, the horror stories happen when regular folk in an emergency call 911 and find the craziness happening at the other end of the line. For instance. . .
People have been known to call 911 for some pretty stupid reasons: keys locked in the car, slow traffic, loud fireworks, knife wielding ex-boyfriends breaking in the house threatening to kill them. Whoa! That last one doesn't seem to fit the description at all! But when Sheila Jones called 911 in Nashville to report that very thing, the response she received was akin to what one might expect if calling an emergency line to report an ingrown toenail.
After her first call went unanswered, Jones called back and got fantastic news. Officers had been dispatched, but another more important call came in, so they answered that first.
What could be more important than a potential stabbing? A traffic stop, of course! A traffic stop that, in the interest of maintaining our faith in humanity, we will assume was of the GTA IV variety, involving multiple gunshots and at least one person that had burst into flames.
But the shenanigans don't stop there. Jones made a third call after more than two freaking hours had passed with no sign of help. After the call ended--but with tape still rolling--we hear the last damned thing you want to hear when you call 911..."I really just don't give a shit what happens to you."
So, What Happened?
Fortunately, Jones's boyfriend never did get around to actually killing her, presumably because even he started feeling sorry for her after the police failed to show. She did eventually get police to respond to her call, but only after contacting the fucking mayor's office.
When a local news affiliate got wind of the story, they investigated and uncovered the not a shit giving 911 operator's antics. He was immediately fired. At least we hope it was immediate, but don't count on it.
As anyone who has ever worked a customer service gig can attest, the general public is, for the most part, pretty damn boring. Sure, you get calls from the occasional basket case who threatens to end your shit with a chainsaw unless you reverse that $5 late fee, but mostly it's just mundane questions about things you don't care about. You would think this would not be the case for, say, a 911 operator. The constant stream of calls about gunshots, robberies and out of control chimpanzee attacks would be enough to keep anyone on their toes, right?
We use this pic whenever we can.
Apparently, it is not, as evidenced by a Memphis woman's experience when she called 911 to report that someone was tapping on her window:
Things begin with the woman explaining her situation to the 911 operator. The above news report then devolves into what looks like an infomercial for shitty emergency responder service.
If you call today, we'll ignore your plea for help for 15 full seconds, responding only with dead silence!
But we're not stopping there! Act right away, and we won't just double it...
Nope! If you call 911 today, we'll pass right the Hell out for one full minute!
If you listen close, you can actually hear dude snoring on the phone. He eventually wakes up and gets down to business by asking for the woman's address. The address she had already given him before he passed out.
So, What Happened?
After months of badgering by a Memphis reporter, an investigation into the call was finally launched. The operator on duty was suspended for seven days. That oughta show him! His supervisor was suspended for 20 days, because when you fall asleep at your job, it's totally your boss's fault.
As for the caller, she eventually got help, and we quote, "when she called another 911 agency." What? Like who, the A-Team? Spencer for Hire? Seriously, we're asking.
People react to stress in various ways. Some people overeat, some people get throw-up drunk and some people curse like sailors when their 911 calls aren't answered in a timely manner. Understandable reactions, all of them, but be advised, depending on who answers your distress call, dropping the occasional f-bomb could have unintended consequences. Adrianne Ledesma of Lincoln Park, Michigan learned this lesson the hard way.
We're not quite sure where Lincoln Park is, but as this news story detailing her encounter with an easily offended 911 operator points out, residents there make over 14,000 911 calls each year. Based on those numbers, we're going to take a wild guess and say it's somewhere near Detroit.
Google Maps thinks so too!
In light of that, it's no surprise that when Adrianne Ledesma called 911, it took a few rings before someone was able to answer. After calling once and getting no answer, she hung up and called again. This time, it once again rang several times before anyone answered. Understandably frustrated, Ledesma blurted out "what the fuck?!" as the phone was ringing.
Because 911 calls begin recording before they are even answered, somehow, the operator on the other end heard the foul language. When Ledesma advised that she needed an ambulance and gave her address, the operator got right to the important business at hand: scolding the girl for cursing.
The teen responded to this ill-timed lecture the same way most any of us would.
Having apparently never been subjected to such unseemly behavior in his life, the 20-year veteran of the Lincoln Park Police Department on the other end of the call got things back on a more professional course by hanging up on the caller.
We're not emergency response professionals, but we maybe would have asked what the problem was before disconnecting the call. In case you're curious, the girl's father was on the floor having a seizure.
But the fun didn't stop there. After the teen called back, the officer continued on the moral highroad by asking if she was going to swear again before adding a nice pot-calling-the-kettle-black moment when he called her "a stupid ass."
Again, so taken back at the thought of a frantic teen having the audacity to curse, the officer still didn't ask what she was calling about and disconnected the call. This display of pointless bickering even continued through a third call in which the officer called her "a buffoon." It should go without saying that she was hung up on that time also.
So, What Happened?
There's good news and there is bad news. On the bright side, Officer Friendly finally did put in the call for help, although he was still unable to tell them exactly what they were being dispatched for. In keeping with his FCC like devotion to family friendly emergencies, he made sure to bring up the cursing when putting in the call.
Also, the father lived. As for the bad news, after her trifecta of failed attempts at summoning help for her ailing father, Adrianne Ledesma drove to the police station. Naturally, she was especially irate by this point. Because his douchebag meter goes well past 11, the officer she had been talking to came out and asked if she was the foul-mouthed girl he had been speaking to. When she acknowledged that she was, he immediately arrested her and charged her with "abusing 911," a charge that, according to the news story, doesn't actually exist.
The officer got off with a two-week unpaid suspension and "training." To whomever is in charge of his training, yeah, good luck with that.