Okay, I just have to share this story because it's so ridiculous. Yesterday, I was on my way to dinner with a friend, driving down a very large busy street in Austin. As we approach a stoplight, my friend notices what appears to be either an EXTREMELY unconscious, or possibly dead, man on the bench at a bus stop. She points him out to me. His head is hanging down over his body at a very strange angle, and his arms are randomly flopped around at odd angles also. We are fairly certain he's dead. So after the light turns green, I call 311 (our non-emergency emergency number that is supposed to take the load off 911, but in fact, is just extremely proficient at placing callers on interminable hold and making them angry enough to cause a real emergency by hurling projectiles at things) and proceed to hold. When someone comes on the line, she asks where I am and what is wrong. I tell her I'm driving down the street and I just saw either an unconscious or a dead man at the bus stop. She tells me - "Well, if you think he's dead, I need to connect you to 911." After pondering this, I realize that she has it backwards - I mean, if he's dead, it's not really an emergency anymore right? So confusing. So she connects me. I repeat the story. 911 tells me that they have to connect me to EMS. At this point I'm having some flashbacks to my numerous phone calls over the past several months with my DSL monopoly and start to instruct my passenger to prepare the wet towels, just out of habit. EMS comes on the line, and I will do a horrible re-enactment of the conversation for you. I am NOT making any of this up - I have a witness.
EMS: Ma'am - what is your emergency?
ME: I'm driving northbound on XXX street, and on the southbound side, at a bus stop in front of XXX, there is a guy who is either profoundly unconscious or deceased.
EMS: Okay, ma'am, is he breathing?
ME: I have no idea if he's breathing - I'm driving in my car. I passed him when I was driving past the bus stop. I'm just letting you know where he is.
EMS: Do you know if he has a pulse?
ME: Can you hear me?
EMS: Yes ma'am, I can hear you.
ME: Well I don't think you're understanding me. I am nowhere near this man - I drove past the bus stop, in my automobile, and I saw him there, and I called. I am not at the bus stop, I was never at the bus stop - I saw him from inside my car.
EMS: Ma'am did he respond to you - could he hear you?
ME: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? CAN YOU HEAR THE WORDS I'M SAYING? Let me start over. I was driving down XXX street, at about 40 MPH, with my windows rolled up, the air conditioner on, minding my own business, when I see what looks like a dead guy at a bus stop. I am basically on a freeway, and so I called 911. I did not touch him, talk to him or take his pulse. I did not stop my car, run across four lanes of traffic and begin CPR. I did not do an organ transplant or inspect his undergarments or the contents of his wallet. I did not take fingerprints or collect DNA. I'm assuming you will do all that should you ever get over there.
EMS: Ma'am can you tell me how old he is?
ME: I HAVE NO CLUE HOW OLD HE IS!
EMS: Well guess - is he 40? 80?
ME: You are kidding, right? I don't know. How about we go with somewhere between 40 and 80?
EMS: Okay - so did you leave the scene?
ME: I WAS NEVER AT "THE SCENE" - THERE IS NO "SCENE" - I WAS DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD IN MY CAR, I PASSED THE GUY, I CALLED YOU. ARE YOU GOING TO GO SEE IF HE'S OK?
EMS: Yes, we will get someone on the way.
Really. Seriously. Of course, halfway through this my passenger is laughing hysterically.
So when you hear those taped 911 calls on TV, just know they happen everywhere. You know - the ones that go like this:
911: What is your emergency?
Person: A bear just ate my left leg. Please send help
911: What do you mean by bear? Like a NAKED person?
Person: No - a grizzly bear. A bear just ate my leg.
911: Was the bear naked?
Person: Aren't all bears naked?
911: Why didn't you run?
Person: I can't run with one leg. Can you send an ambulance please?
911: I'M GOING TO NEED YOU TO CALM DOWN AND STOP YELLING.
This is why I have an emergency kit in my car.