Before I became a 911 dispatcher, I knew I’d see and hear some weird things. One of my dearest friends is a firefighter and she’s seen all kinds of bizarre happenings. I read my dad’s Joseph Wambaugh novels as a kid, which were filled with weird things that seemed impossible. Take this quote from The Delta Star:
The Laser Lady said, “The grid coordinates are thirty-six latitude and forty-five longitude. You must hurry, Officer. They’re shooting lasers right into my head.”
When I first read that, I rolled my eyes. It’s the start of a funny little chapter, but that kind of call just sounded unreal. I hadn’t been on the job two weeks when I heard calls from one of our frequent fliers, who has her OWN premise in our CAD system (not bad for a homeless person). They sounded something like this:
“You better turn off those damn relays or I’m going to contact Homeland Security! Those fucking relays are burning my crotch! If you don’t get ‘em off, I’m gonna retaliate!”
And then she’d hang up before you could utter a word. She calls almost daily and I know when she’s called because her call hangs open, waiting for an officer to decide to risk a visit to her. She’s been committed multiple times, cannot speak in a tone that isn’t shrieking as far as I can tell, and has lived in her little corner of town for many years. Her situation probably won’t change. All we can do is ask if she needs police, fire, or medical help and she invariably refuses to answer our question because she’s rattling off her demand.
Okay, that’s a person with mental or emotional troubles. Sure, that’s weird, but what else?
Caller: “Yeah, this guy got hit by a car and stabbed.”
911: “I’m sorry, something on the car stabbed the guy?”
Caller: “No, he got hit by a car and then when we helped him up we could see he’d been stabbed.”
911: “Did he say who stabbed him?”
Caller: “Oh, yeah. He said he robbed a convenience store and the manager got pissed and stabbed him with his box cutter.”
911: *looooong silence* “I’ve let our officers and aid crews know.”
911: “Emergency, do you need police, fire, or medical?”
Caller: (in an unbelievably slow drawl) “That’s up to you. I got a bear in my backyard.” (This is in the middle of the city)
911: “Are you in danger?”
Caller: “Naw. He’s just relaxing.”
911: “Let’s get you over to State Patrol so we can get Fish and Wildlife on the phone.”
Caller: (still drawling) “All right.”
These weren’t even weekend calls. 2020 is a wild year.