I was trolling CNN.com for some interesting news and came across this nugget.


The headline grabbed me as it would most readers.  After all, what type of moron would call 911 over a juice box? 

I must admit I get a certain voyeuristic pleasure over witnessing other people’s idiotic mistakes because they make me feel better about my idiotic mistakes. And clearly, this particular story had to be good (although maybe not AS good as faking your own abduction and going to Disney World, a story which made me feel so much better about all the times I faked a stomach ache so I could get a few moments of peace in the bathroom).

But after I viewed the video, I empathized with the defendant.  Granted I would never call 911 in this particular situation BUT I have had moments in my adult life when I needed to speak to the police in a non-emergency situation and did not have a phone number.  Once I hit a parked car and wanted to file a report; another time there was a suspicious looking (but non-threatening) person walking around our neighborhood and I wanted some advice; and then there was a traffic light out at a busy intersection with no one there to direct the cars through.

None of the above situations constituted an EMERGENCY, so I did not call 911.  I think the 911 marketing has been so effective that, while everyone knows what number to call, many of us are afraid to call “the number” unless someone is dying.  Just the way they answer the phone is intimidating: 


“Uh, I don’t really have one.”

Ironically when I needed plain old fashioned police assistance, I didn’t know what number to call.  It didn’t use to be that way.  Before 911 existed, we all memorized the numbers of our local precincts.  Now many don’t know or have forgotten these numbers because 911 has become the defacto choice.  Is this a good thing?

Today it seems as if 911 is all we have.  It’s A DIRE EMERGENCY or it’s not worthy.

The poor kid in the news story felt he had been wronged and needed some help.  I don’t think many of us are that far removed from this situation, if for no other reason than we have all been screwed at the drive through. This kid lacked a maturity that would have prevented most of us from bringing the police into this situation but it’s certainly not as absurd as the headline screams.  And certainly not as absurd as faking an abduction.  It is, as the defendant’s father suggests, an honest mistake.

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