No matter how exciting of a job we have, eventually it becomes mundane. There’s nothing unconscionable about becoming desensitized to, say, emergency savings withdrawals or organizing a staff potluck. But we still feel bad because that’s what we’re paid to do (read: supposed to care about).
So can you imagine how a 911 operator must feel when the honeymoon’s over? One in Memphis actually fell asleep during a robbery call. In the interest of giving the benefit of doubt, we present: A Day in the Life of a 911 Operator.
It is 7 am on an overcast Monday morning. The OPERATOR is a little weary from last night’s rounds at Applebee’s, but that’s nothing a little coffee and danger won’t cure.
Operator: 911 Emergency Dispatch. How can I help you?
Caller: Oh my god! My husband killed himself!
Operator: Was it a murder-suicide?!
Caller: N-no. I’m calling you, aren’t I?
Operator: Did he use detergent? Are you having any difficulty breathing?
Caller: No. He used a gun. On himself. On his head, specifically.
Operator: Why’d he do it?
Operator: Why’d he, you know, shoot himself? Did he keep your daughter in the basement and have sex with her? Was it guilt from impregnating her?
Caller: What?! No. We have a son. He’s a banker.
Operator: Was he famous?
Caller: Was he fa– …? No.
Operator: Um, I’ll send some police and an ambulance. Thanks for calling.
One smoke break and some playful ribbing about Carl’s Phoenix Suns later, and the OPERATOR is back at his post. Hopefully this call will really fire him up.
Operator: 911 Emergency Dispatch. What’s your emergency?
Caller: I woke up in a motel bathtub full of ice!
Operator: Really?! Is there a note on the mirror?
Caller: Uh, yeah! It said to call you because my kidneys are gone!
Operator: Yes! I knew that urban legend was real! What motel are you in?! I’ll send an ambulance immediately!
Caller: [Laughing] Psych! Loser.
Operator: I have traced your call. Very large police officers are on the way.
After a lunch of staring at that hot cashier at Wendy’s, but not talking to her again, the OPERATOR pops some No-Doze and is ready to save some lives. Also, to troll the Fark comments.
Operator: 911 Emergency Dispatch. What’s shakin’ your bacon?
Caller: What’s shak– …?
Operator: Sorry, what’s your emergency?
Caller: I saw a shooting!
Operator: Holy s–t! How many victims?! 30?! 100?!
Operator: One attractive white or maybe Asian woman?
Caller: One bla– African American guy.
Operator: So it wasn’t on a campus?
Caller: Actually, yeah.
Operator: Really?! What school?
Operator: So … not Virginia Tech?
Caller: No, about 20 minutes south of Tech.
Caller: So are you sending somebody?!
Operator: Sir, please stay off this line until Quadfest. Goodbye.
Ugh, this day will not end. Plus, the OPERATOR is worried that Tina overheard his “women are terrible at oral sex” joke. He makes a mental note to explain why he’s not really sexist and that he values her friendship later. (“Don’t forget to mention that paper you wrote about Toni Morrison.”) He also wonders if doctors can prescribe medicinal cocaine for sleepiness.
Operator: 911. Do you need police or ambulance?
Caller: Is this Memphis or Shelby County?
Caller: OK, Memphis. I need somebody over here. I need [inaudible]. I got robbed outside my townhouse.
Caller: A guy. He took my keys from my townhouse and my keys to my vehicle and everything and I just heard tapping on my window. I need somebody over here. My dog heard it. My dog got up.
Caller: Are you there?
Operator: Yes, ma’am. What is the, um. What is your address? Ma’am …. You there?
As you can see, it can happen to anybody. It’s not the dispatcher’s fault that your calls are boring; it’s the media’s fault for desensitizing us to crime and tragedy. Please, next time you call 911, try to sex up your emergency. Emergency dispatch operators are people, too.