In a recent interview Michelle Obama was asked what it takes to be the First Lady. Her answer, “You have to really like people.” Well that settles it… I will never be the First Lady. My husband’s lack of political aspirations aside – I really do not like people. Of course Michelle Obama has never worked in a 911 dispatch center. I used to like people, I think. In all honesty I’ve been doing this job for so long I don’t remember. I remember when I started in Emergency Services I was truly doing it because I wanted to help people. And at $6.00 an hour as an EMT – I obviously wasn’t in it for the money. I, like countless others before me, thought I was going to be some kind of equivalent to Superman – saving citizens daily. It didn’t take long for reality to set in that basically I was just a ride to the hospital most of the time. I had started to get a bad feeling for “people” in general while still on the ambulance, then I moved to ambulance dispatch and even worse after that I moved to 911 dispatch. 911 is where all delusions of “people” being a good and kind group are put to rest.
You may be surprised to learn that it’s not the people who call 911 daily – yes we have “frequent fliers” – that have left such a bad taste in my mouth. Nor is it the people who become belligerent with me while on the phone. The reason I don’t like “people” started a little over 6 years ago when I received a 911 call from a man who wanted to complain that his neighbors little girl was coloring with sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk in front of his house. I found that a tad on the ridiculous side. That was the same summer when we had one of our “frequent fliers” calling because the boys in her neighborhood were playing basketball in an empty lot next to her house. Trust me your “friends and neighbors” are usually your worst enemies. Get a parking ticket? 9 times out of 10 it was one of your neighbor’s who called to complain because unless you are parked in the middle of the road or an officer is really really bored he’s not out writing parking tickets. I have taken complaints that people are driving to fast through a neighborhood so an officer was sent to run radar in the neighborhood – then I get the complaint from the guy who got a ticket who lives in the neighborhood. BLAME YOUR NEIGHBOR! These are things I want to yell daily.
I can go on….. If someone leaves their dog in a car for 5 minutes in a parking lot with on a 60 degree day and I will get an average or two calls, but no one noticed when a man abandoned his three children in a car when it was about 15 degrees outside. They had sat for an undetermined amount of time (long enough to get frostbite) before an officer noticed the car parked at a gas station. How many people go in and out of a gas station? I haven’t even started on the calls from your fellow drivers while on the roadway. If someone flips you off or honks at you – I really don’t need to know. Nor do you need to follow them and get their license plate number because there is nothing an officer can do unless he sees the offense take place. And just because someone cuts you off’ doesn’t mean they are drunk driving. Actually the best “drunk driver” I ever got was called in as “swerving all over the road” and a “menace to other drivers.” She pulled off into a parking lot and when the officer caught up to her she was parked but on sitting on the floor of her van with her hand under the seat. Her swerving was caused because her daughters pet guinea pig had escaped its box crawled briefly up her leg until she screamed then hid under the seat. I’ll admit I would swerve if a guinea pig started to crawl up my leg while I was driving. And she swerved exactly one time before finding a parking lot to pull into but the person I talked to would have you believe she was running up over curbs for miles.
“Love thy neighbor” is obviously a Commandment people have decided to toss out over the last few years. Even the good Christians are typically only working on nine Commandments.
So there you have it – a glimpse into the world I deal with 40 hours a week. And just a snapshot as to why I say on a regular basis “I don’t like people.” Dashing any hope I had of every becoming the First Lady. Luckily Michelle Obama hasn’t had the pleasure of working 911.