Scratchy Glitter

Observations for the easily irritated.

Tag: 911

The Second Secret

This is what we call posting semi-regularly. (I am trying to ignore Cat Esmerelda yelling for attention behind me.) (In case you thought cats were low-maintenance.)

TWO DAYS LATER…

What else were you expecting?

In analyzing How My Job Affected Me & Why I Blog About It–most dispatchers want to be perceived as Caring Professionals. We do care, of course–we want the bad guy to be caught and the baby to start breathing again. But our management likes to tell us, “Imagine that it’s your friend or family member calling when you answer 911.” It doesn’t work that way. It cannot work that way. Emergency-services people among themselves have a dark sense of humor. Those who can’t develop one don’t last past training. (I do remember one trainee who used to lecture her trainers about their attitude. Just think of how that went over.)

That being said, I’ve heard colleagues say that this job has made everyone cry at one time or another. (I guess that’s why the restroom floor has a drain, to dispose of dispatcher tears.)  But I have never cried because of work. (Cursed, yes.) However, it’s also said that everyone who’s been doing the job for any length of time has a Call That Haunts Them. I actually have one of those, and that’s the second secret. No one has heard this story before but Rom.

It was while we were still downtown. I was the calltaker. (We had only one back then–quaint, isn’t it?) I took a suicide call.

Now suicide calls–the ones made by the actual suicidal person, not by family members or friends–have always been my most-hated part of the job. I never felt like I knew what to say, and the consequences of saying the wrong thing might be terrible. This guy had stabbed himself in the abdomen with a screwdriver, then regretted it and called 911. And he was fading fast, and could not remember his address.

This was in the 80’s, when we did not have even the rudimentary GPS capabilities we have now. The guy could give me the numerics of his address–and did so repeatedly–but he could not remember the name of the street. I kept asking, but every time I asked, he just repeated the numbers and trailed off. Time was running out, and I was frantic to get the information. I felt so helpless, and kept thinking, If he can remember the numbers, why can’t he remember the street?, and I kind of snapped at him.

Eventually, his brother called in and gave us the address, and we got everybody out there, but by then it was too late. Ever since then, I’ve wondered, if I hadn’t spoken to him irritably, would he have been able to remember? I suppose it’s equally possible that my sharp tone might have jolted him out of his daze. But anyway, I wish I’d managed to remain professional throughout, which surely would have improved the chances.Oh well.

I also had some of the usual silly stuff to write, but it doesn’t really fit well after this, so I will just leave it for now.

Oh, in case anyone was wondering what was my most-favorite part of the job–that would be monitoring the tactical channel on SWAT callouts.

 

 

 

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True Confessions + Some Actual Content

I’m going to tell you a secret. Actually, three secrets, but the other two will have to wait. Only then can we move on as a nation.

I’ve been trying to figure out if this blog is still viable now that I’m retired and no longer able to provide content that you couldn’t get anywhere else. Or that you weren’t getting anywhere else, more precisely. Which brings us to the secret, of sorts.

I never thought this blog would make me famous, since I’m not insane. However, I did think it might attract a wider readership of fellow 911 dispatchers. Toward that end, someone more publicity-minded than I am (well, that could be anyone, couldn’t it?) linked to this blog on a dispatch Facebook page so that others could view it. I received my highest readership that day, some 360 people. That was a big surprise to wake up to. The bigger surprise was that all those extra readers never came back. They checked it out once and decided it wasn’t for them.

I’ll discuss why that might be so in the next post, but in the meantime, if you noticed a point at which S.G. lost momentum, and I could no longer be counted on to post regularly, that would be why. Nick, if you call me a “poor thing” again, I will…well, I don’t know what I’ll do. You’ll have to check back with me later.

I remember when I couldn’t wait to get home and post all kinds of exciting stuff about my less-than-exciting life. I still get ideas, but I tend to lie down and wait until the urge passes. BUT NOW…

LYRICAL CRITICISM–BAD RELATIONSHIP IDEAS FROM POPULAR SONGS

–“Why you gotta be so cruel? I’m gonna marry you anyway.” Always a good idea.

–“Marry you no matter what you say.” I believe that’s illegal.

SEEN ON THE COVER OF COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE

“Sun’s out, buns out!” That’s illegal, too.

ADVENTURES IN THE RESTROOMS OF LIFE

I don’t read my daily horoscope, but mine must have said “Taureans will have trouble accessing public restrooms.”

At CVS, they’d put up the “No Public Restrooms” sign in front of, well, their public restrooms, as they do at unpredictable intervals. (Whenever they see me coming, for all I know.) It actually says, “No Public Restrooms–Please Don’t Ask,” which infringes on my freedom of speech.

At Walgreen’s–well, if you smell an almighty stench as soon as you turn into the hall leading to the restroom, you know not to go in there.

At Thornton’s, the women’s room had a sign saying “Closed for Cleaning.” Feeling a bit desperate by now, I slipped into the (empty) men’s room. When I came out, I saw a mother and daughter waiting for the Cleaning to come to an end. The little girl said, “Mommy, that lady came out of the men’s room!” I went and got my fountain drink (thus beginning the cycle all over again), glanced back, and saw mother and daughter emerging from the men’s room, looking a good deal more relaxed.

I PERFORM A HEROIC DEED IN THE RESTROOM

On another occasion at Walgreen’s (see, this is what happens when I post regularly, so be careful what you pray for) (if anyone was in fact praying for this), whoever keeps mischievously locking one of the stall doors from the inside (I’m guessing a poltergeist) had again done so. I thought, What this situation requires is someone able and willing to slither under the door and unlock it. So I did. It meant that my clothes acquired bathroom cooties, which makes them ritually impure until they’re laundered, but two-stall functionality has been restored. I expect a plaque on the stall door for my efforts.

I AM LESS HEROIC AT HOME

…having dropped a brand-new shoe in the toilet. So that shoe now has toilet cooties (even though the toilet was clean), which will not be removed until I get caught out in the rain wearing those shoes.

OK, I’m tired of this topic. Time to resume arguing with A Certain Person about whether Nick is adorable or not.

 

Better Work Habits

Remember those? I don’t, either.

I have been home with a cold, and feeling diseased and gross. I used up an entire box of tissues (DISCLAIMER: one of the smaller cube-shaped ones) (with roses on it!) (OK, I BOUGHT OUT WALGREEN’S ENTIRE SUPPLY OF THOSE, ALRIGHT??)  in a day and a half.

Secret Santa at work gave me a fuzzy throw, decorated (in a rather macabre fashion) with cat heads, and it is the WORLD’S SOFTEST THING. So sometimes I sit there just feeling it. Yes, I have a Security Blanket, and woe to the one who attempts to take it from me.

MY APOLOGY TO THE BUS SERVICE

–Their new changes are only half as annoying as I portrayed them to be. Further details are too boring to present here.

PINK & RED ALL OVER

Valentine stuff has been spotted at Area Drugstores. It has been at Walmart since December, I’ve been told, but Walmart is evil and I don’t go there. Aside from their corporate policies, any place with aisles higher than my head needs to be no bigger than Walgreens, or it makes me nervous.

AND SPEAKING OF MY NERVES…

I was thinking of all the people who’ve said (over the past 30 years), “I could never work at 911! I couldn’t handle the stress!” After all the jobs I couldn’t handle the stress of, why am I still here?

You know what I’ve found most stressful about the job? In the early 90’s, they decided we would benefit from training with/observing other agencies. So we had frequent “field trips”–to the ambulance service, firehouse, the new jail, basically anyplace they could think of. (Luckily, the visit to the morgue was optional, although the visit of the Crime Scene tech with grisly color pictures was NOT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, THE WORDS “CRIME SCENE IN-SERVICE” STILL FILL ME WITH HORROR.) I thought, What ever happened to the job I agreed to, where I go to the place and just stay there until I leave?

Now, I don’t handle unfamiliar settings very well. (Yeah, I know, how can they become familiar if I don’t embrace new experiences, etc.) So, while I was supposed to be absorbing new information, I would be sweaty-palmed and queasy, thinking about how far away from home I was. And mandatory police ride-alongs were the ultimate “state of frozen horror,” as Nick so eloquently puts it.

I’ve actually become better about that whole thing with the years, but this was back before I’d developed any coping mechanisms. But even now, talk of road trips–travel generally, in fact–or variations in planned itinerary, or TOO MUCH itinerary (you know, “While we’re across town, why don’t we stop at That Other Place, too?”)  makes me uneasy.

So, do you feel like you understand me now? Neither do I. Understand myself, I mean.

 

 

The Myth of Scratchy Glitter

A few people have gently suggested (well, Nick not-so-gently) that maybe I should post something. And Blog School prompted, “If you post regularly for six months, what would you hope to accomplish?” I hope to accomplish posting for six months, obviously, now that I’ve established that you can’t take that for granted. And, daring to nag me further, “If you blog regularly for the next year, what would your goals be?” I believe I made myself clear in my very first post that I GOT NO GOALS. This is just inchoate rambling. If you find it charming, good.

ENDLESS DRAMA CANNOT CHANGE

I dreamed I was a political prisoner, and one of my captors said, “You know, I’ve always hated you.” I found this ominous, under the circumstances.

FASHION POLICE ALERT

I like to visualize the outfits on suspects described to us by 911 callers. My previous favorite was the guy who shoplifted a whole outfit, from hat to shoes, in shades of blue and white. But the best possible outfit was produced by a woman who was described as wearing “a black top with unicorns on it, and no pants.” You know, no pants goes with everything.

911 OVERHEARD

“So there’s an eyeball in the middle of your rug staring at you?….Ma’am, we can’t help you with a spider.”

DID YOU KNOW?

…that calling 911 is not like ordering in a restaurant? You don’t get to specify what happens. For example, saying “I want him arrested” doesn’t make it so.

Caller: I want to report my car stolen. This guy said he was going to fix it, but he didn’t, and he’s got it locked in his garage and won’t let me have it. {Turns out, by the way, that she hadn’t paid him, which she didn’t mention when she called.}

Me: Ma’am, that’s not a stolen vehicle. That’s a civil disagreement, and you need to contact an attorney.

Caller: But there’s no contract!

Me: That makes no difference.

We went back and forth with “Does too!” and “Does not!” for some minutes, before I finally said, “I’ll send you an officer anyway, so he can tell you the same thing I just told you,” and she talked over me and ended with “And I’m going to get a stolen report!”

Well, she did not get her wish, which led to…

“I want to file a grievance. That sergeant didn’t do anything he was supposed to.”

Me (genuinely curious): “What was he supposed to do?”

“Take all our information and charge this guy with auto theft.”

I said, “Well, you could call internal affairs, but that won’t turn it into a stolen vehicle.”

She screamed, “What a bitch!” and hung up. Hey, maybe she was the person who hated me in my dream.

BLOWS AGAINST THE EMPIRE

The city still doesn’t provide us with paper towels in the break room, thinking that’s a luxury the taxpayers shouldn’t have to underwrite. But after the dispenser in the restroom had been refilled, and the previous roll with just a little left on it had been put on the top of the dispenser, I made a Command Decision and took that roll into the break room. Next time I looked, it had been brought back into the bathroom. ACCEPT IT! THE CITY WANTS YOU TO WAVE YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR UNTIL THEY DRY!

I ASK YOU TO JUDGE BETWEEN US

I was walking down St Joe the other day, and a car on a side street had its snout stuck into traffic. When I started to cross the street, it pulled back, so it was no longer impeding my progress. I nodded, acknowledging the courtesy, and crossed. Then I heard someone yelling behind me, “You never even looked!” I turned around, my mind doing its usual clumsy gear-shifting in spontaneous human interactions–“Why is that person yelling? Is he yelling at me? Who is that guy, anyway?” Bear in mind that I was thinking that last as I was LOOKING AT HIM. It took a moment (about as long as it takes when the newscaster says, “And we’re live with our reporter on the scene” and said reporter just stands there blankly for a moment until they hear the prompt in their ear) before I realized it was a certain Nick, with whom I have a passing familiarity. He was wriggling with excitement and delight at seeing me so unexpectedly. He was accompanied by his mate and his–well, “spawn” is such an ugly word, so let’s just say “cubs.” He said they’d actually been stalking me for some blocks, waiting to see if I’d notice. As, he implied, any normal person would have. The question I put to you, FanBase, is, Do people normally peer into every small black car they pass, to see if they know someone inside? I thought not.

 

Not Good At Life

The title is courtesy of my life coach Nick.

On the way home from work last night, it suddenly came to me–“I really miss blogging.” Well, WHAT’S STOPPING ME? And thank you to that person who keeps checking back, which I can only interpret as stalking.

Since I have obviously lost all sense of responsibility to my readership, I will dispense with explanations and apologies, and just get right into it.

A REMINDER FROM THE FASHION POLICE

Leggings are not pants, flip-flops are not shoes, as it is, was, and ever shall be, world without end, amen.

PROPOSED AUTOMATED MESSAGES FOR TEXT FROM 911

“Your cell phone called 911. If this is a butt dial, your butt is apparently smarter than you are.”

“Your cell phone called 911. Did you know that those flip phones you make fun of old people for having make it virtually impossible to butt-dial? You may wish to consider purchasing one.”

“Your cell phone called 911.  Merely dialing us, then continuing to scream at the other party without telling us where you are is not accomplishing anything.” {Nick, if you say, “‘Dialing?’ Who still says that?,” I will stripe you.}

“Are you calling to report a wreck? Don’t you see all the other people who whipped their phones out at the same time?”

“If you’re  calling because you’re involved in a domestic dispute, and you see that the other party is already calling, there is no need for you to call also ‘to tell your side of the story.'”

WAYS TO START A CALL THAT STRIKE FEAR INTO MY HEART

“I have a situation…”

“Let me give you a little backstory…”

“Three years ago…”

ADVERTISEMENT FOR A NEWS SITE

“Dive into Election 2016!” No, eww.

I just broke a fingernail plugging my phone charger into the wall. Not good at life.

Dear Ideal Reader…

Yeah, that’s today’s Blog School assignment. Do you feel ideal yet? I’m feeling ideal, having had 1 1/2 cans of alcoholic beverage. You know the one.

Yes, I’m sidestepping the assignment. I have no idea who an Ideal Reader of this blog might be. I do know that an ideal existence would not include the mosquito which is currently attending me.

You know you’re hopeless when you get to “Need help? Read the Tips for this assignment” and you don’t understand the tips either. Pingbacks? Trackbacks? I don’t even know what they are, how can I decide whether to allow them?

SOME IDEAL INFORMATION

The ideal Diet Coke fountain to use at McDonald’s is the left-hand one. The middle one splatters soda all over you, and the right-hand one spits carbonated water into your cup for a moment before consenting to give you Coke.

Speaking of which, the St Joe McDonald’s got a fancy new menu screen in an attempt to look like the big-city one at Lloyd and Rosenberger. It features a video with a Caramel Frappe which looks like pouring puke into a cup. I found the screen somewhat intimidating, until I realized the menu itself hadn’t changed.

CRISIS IN PROGRESS: OK, THEN

“Subject is talking about an All-Seeing Eye. Put his arm into an anthill, got ants on himself, and told caller he was going to go give a church a plague of ants.”

MILDLY-AMUSING ADVENTURES: IT’S HALLOWEEN AGAIN!

Which I report on every year, you may remember. Walgreen’s stock included a Spooky Witch Wig, which consisted of long dark hair, with light hair in front. Like I, you know, have anyway. All year long.

I planned to write some other stuff, but I’m drunk and flighty, so you’ll have to be content with this, unless I wander back here later.

I’m Just Typing Whatever I’m Thinking

Disclaimer: Yeah, I’m on vacation, and yeah, I’m drunk.

Blog School Assignment #2 (hey, they said I could do it at my own pace!) was to read other people’s blogs, which need not concern you. I will note, however, that I’ve become a fan of Jon Webb at the Courier & Press. (Yeah, I should no doubt include some sort of link, but you know how that goes.) It’s like what you’d get if I’d actually become a journalist, instead of what I really became, namely, the Queen of Spiders.

CRISIS IN PROGRESS: DRUGSPEAK

#1: “He ripped me off”= drug deal gone wrong. Example: “Those guys beat me up while my boyfriend was down the street looking for a guy who ripped him off.”

#2: Me: So why do you think they’re doing drugs at that address?

Caller (solemnly): I just know. = I was doing drugs there with them, and then they ripped me off.

WORLD LEADER EDICTS, KTHNXBAI EDITION:

–If you get a small or medium (blue cup) drink from Thornton’s, do not equip it with a red (for large/red cup) straw. There are blue straws available in the very same place.

–If you can’t be bothered to get your garbage cans OUT OF MY WAY on the sidewalk (which is theoretically for people to walk on, not just a place to stash your trash), I will walk on your lawn to get around them, not out in the traffic.

COULD I BE MORE FED UP?

The Indiana Revenue Service discovered, at this late date, that I owed them money on my 2013 taxes. Including penalty and interest. So why, if it was their mistake (they’d even sent me a refund that year, and now they want it back) do owe the penalty and interest? I, you know, kind of assumed that if they sent me a refund, that meant I kind of, well, the reverse of owed them money. Hey, remember when they thought I might be an identity thief? What the hell is the deal in Indianapolis, anyway? Rom said, “It just took them that long to find out the depth of your depravity,” which sounds like something Nick would say. See, Nick, I mentioned you after all. I know you’re kind of needy that way.

 

 

 

 

 

Alternate Title Universe

Today’s Blog School assignment is to decide if I really like my title and tagline, or if I need to change them. “Observations for the easily irritated” is staying, because it kind of says it all, but what about the title? Could I come up with a title that doesn’t sound like the blog is about crafts, and doesn’t refer to a substance I hate?

WordPress suggests “Try playing with a favorite book title or song lyric and see if you can come up with a title that says something about you!” OK, how about “Tense. Nervous. Can’t Relax.”?

Speaking of which, a co-worker assessed an applicant here (there are currently, I think, 4 openings here, thanks to people deciding they would rather WORK WITH SEWAGE–I didn’t make that up) by saying, “She’s not reserved–she’s outgoing enough to do the job.” Which leads to the question, What have I been doing here for 30 years? Tense. Nervous. Reserved.

Scratchy Glitter Rises From the Dead!

…And goes to school! And stuff!

…WAIT, GO BACK TO THAT RISING FROM THE DEAD THING…

…or at least rising from the sidewalk, where, on May 20, I tripped and dislocated my finger. (If you want to visit the site and leave flowers, it’s on Maryland St. by Thornton’s–the new white sidewalk square, where they’d repaired it and it’s not quite flush with the others.) The finger was at a “jaunty angle,” to quote a concerned colleague, and was “relocated” after shooting me up with so much lidocaine my lips were numb. Before this happened, if you’d asked me what happens after you dislocate a finger, I’d have said it’d be sore for a few days, then you’d be good as new. I would not have answered “weeks of physical therapy which manages to be both painful and boring.” As it turns out, Answer 2 is the right one. Anyway, typing was not an option for awhile. But I have learned valuable life skills, like how to shower with your hand in a plastic bag.

Other things I have learned thanks to Alien Finger, as I like to call it:

–It’s hard to wash your right armpit with your right hand.

–It’s not a good idea to drop a gel deodorant stick on the floor.

THEATER OF CRUELTY

I called my good friend NICK (his name capitalized so he can find it easily, since he’s now biting his nails wondering when I’ll get around to mentioning him) from the ER (with my husband egging me on–“Call him! Send him a picture!”) and said, “I think I just broke my finger, so I can’t text you.” He answered at once, “Sure you can, you’ve got 9 other fingers.” DID NOT MISS A BEAT. I realize this response may not seem admirable to everyone, nor will my own admiration of it.

SCHOOL

Since they recommended it to “revive a dormant blog,” I thought this would be a great opportunity to take the Word Press “Blogging Fundamentals” course, and learn all that stuff I thought I’d figure out as I went along, and if you go back through my archives, you can see how well that went. They will give me a daily assignment, and today’s is to

INTRODUCE MYSELF AND SAY WHY I’M HERE,

which I probably should have done at the start, but I was too intent on letting my FanBase of 15 readers know why the blog was dormant. Anyway, now I feel self-conscious and awkward like I did when I first started, so THANKS, WordPress!

WHY YOU SHOULD READ SCRATCHY GLITTER IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME PERSONALLY

I offer a (I think) unique perspective, being a 911 dispatcher with Asperger’s syndrome. There, I SAID it. {Dear Employer, I started before there was ADA and I’m not invoking it on you now, kthnxbai.} I had trouble holding a job before this one, but I’ve been doing this for over 30 years now. I’d originally planned on being a famous novelist, but it’s hard to do that when you haven’t written a novel.

WARNING: A lot of writing on these topics tends to be painfully earnest. This is not that.

I like to say I invented the blog. This thing actually started as an email newsletter to a few select colleagues back in 1990. Then, it was called Crisis in Progress Press. I can express myself much more easily in writing than in speaking, so the computer has been, well, I hesitate to say “therapeutic.”

After going on at such length, I am now going to stop abruptly. It’s past my bedtime (bedtime being between 3 and 4am), and I need to re-wrap Alien Finger, since the tape is covered with cat hair and is filthy and gross.

Your Car Is Not a Boat

One would think that was obvious, but the hordes who insist on driving into high water, “Turn Around Don’t Drown” be damned, prove otherwise.

Also, don’t call 911 just to say the streets are flooded. What do you expect us to do about it? “You need to get barricades out here and block the street.” No I don’t, for 3 reasons:

1. The city doesn’t have enough barricades to block every street that floods OR enough officers to stand there and direct traffic,

2. By the time we could get barricades to all those places, the water would have gone down anyway,

3. Even if the above 2 things were not true, people would drive around the barricades anyway.

Yes, I work for the Department of Boundless Cynicism. But my eyes are not red, no matter what Nick says.

MORE SHOPPING FOLLIES

Remember my ranting about Walmart? The other night, we needed to call an ambulance for one of their loss-prevention people because he was chasing a shoplifter and ran into a door. With his head. HE RAN INTO THE DOOR. WITH HIS HEAD. And then wanted to file assault charges.

Spellcheck is telling me that Walmart is not a word. Would that it were so. And don’t bother saying, “But I bet you like their low prices!” because I never go there. It is sensory overload incarnate.

STREET NAME CENTRAL

A couple of suspects were known to the caller only as “Rara” and “Shy.” Since he burst into a motel room, displayed a gun, and hit someone in the head, I don’t think he was really shy. Also, “displayed” a gun always makes me think they’re gesturing toward it and smiling like Vanna White would do.

Speaking of street names, HEY FOXY! I feel bad about not posting on your birthday.

USEFUL PROVERBS

From my colleague 911SK: “A turd rolled in litter looks better than just a plain turd.”

And from me: “If it smells like dog poop wherever you go, you might check your shoes.”

FASHION REPORT

I’m wearing my impersonating-an-officer outfit–navy blue quick-dry cargo pants and navy blue shirt. Just give me a gun and a  taser and I’m set! “NO!” Nick blurts out hastily. “Do NOT give her those things!”

MY BIRTHDAY HAS A CHANGE OF VENUE

Remember last year, when I had a party at the Howell Park shelter house, which was re-painted for the occasion? And I reassured you that I’d never have a birthday party again? Well, I lied–the Catholic Diocese of Evansville will be having a Mighty Mass (yes, I made up my own title, lest you blame them for it–the actual title of the event is “Rejoice!,” as all must do at the commemoration of my birth) at the Ford Center, on the eve of Pentecost, which is–you guessed it–May 14 this year!! I hope the thousands attending remember to bring me presents.

AND SPEAKING OF CELEBRATION…

Facebook says May 7 is World Naked Gardening Day. This is to “celebrate nudism in nature.” Well, since all the animals are naked, I’d think we’d have enough celebration, but apparently not.

AND JUST WHEN I WAS ABOUT TO HIT “PUBLISH”…

Amazon urges me to buy a shower gel dispenser shaped like a giant nose, and the product comes out of…yeah, you guessed it. No thanks. What’s next, a giant pair of buttocks?

 

 

 

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