Americans in crisis make nearly 250 million calls to 9-1-1 annually, yet with increasingly limited funding and resources, emergency operators are less able to handle the influx of calls. Reports of busy signals are on the rise: 26% of Californians hanging up in frustration over being put on hold for so long before ever speaking to a 911 operator. Last week, one New York woman received a busy signal eight consecutive times while desperately calling for help while experiencing a heart attack.
With that in mind, it’s especially important to remember to reserve the line for life-threatening emergencies only. Here are nine ridiculous calls to 911 that may have tied up the line for people in legitimate trouble:
1. Cable Outages
This past weekend, Connecticut police received multiple calls to 911 to report the cable being out. It’s remarkable that people could go that crazy over a couple hours without television and that Fairfield actually needed to release a statement noting a Cablevision outage is “neither an emergency or a police related concern.”
2. Looking for a Date
After neighbors called in a noise complaint on Lorna Dudash, two officers arrived to tell her to turn her music down. Dudash instantly developed a crush on one of the officers and regretted not exchanging information with him, so she called him up at the only number she knew: 911.
Declaring him “the cutest cop [she’s] seen in God knows how long,” Dudash was able to convince the 911 operator to send the officer back to her house… although this time it was to arrest her for abusing emergency services.
3. Or Hiding a Date
If it’s not appropriate to call 911 for a date, it’s similarly wrong to call emergency services if you have too many dates. Colorado man Kevin Gaylor invited a potential mistress to visit him at his house, but ran into trouble when his wife arrived home earlier than expected.
Gaylor tried to cover-up his infidelity to his wife by calling the police to report the other woman as an armed intruder. Once all of the details were sorted out, Gaylor was charged with a misdemeanor for his false report.
4. Craving Lemonade
Florida resident Jean Fortune ordered a lemonade as part of a combo meal at the drive-thru, but was disheartened to learn that the fast food restaurant was actually out of the beverage when he reached the window. Fortune’s misfortune prompted him to call 911 to report that not only was there no lemonade, but that it took too long for the food to be prepared.
“Sir, come on. I know you don’t seriously think that the police need to make Burger King give you food faster,” the 911 operator said. Fortune was later charged for making this unnecessary call.
5. Teaching Kids a Lesson
Misbehaving children is a hassle of parenting, but you can’t expect the police to fix that for you. Nonetheless, 27-year-old Melissa Townsend wanted the police to teach her unruly toddlers a lesson, asking a 911 operator to send officers to her home to “scare the s*** out of [her] kids.”
If the call weren’t enough to get her arrested, certainly her ill-advised choice to kick an officer who arrived at the scene in the groin multiple times did the trick. On the plus side(?), her kids were probably frightened by the ordeal.
6. Complimenting Prison Food
While it’s not every day that someone is complimentary of prison food, it is not an “emergency” to offer your compliments to the chef. Regardless, Christine Brown called 911 six times to commend the bologna sandwiches she ate during her recent stay in jail. Continuing to dial after being reminded that her calls were not of a life-threatening nature, Brown was arrested again. At least she might get another shot at those bologna sandwiches.
7. Boyfriend Troubles
Hee Orama became so impatient waiting for her significant other to pop the question that she called 911 four times to complain. Although this approach didn’t land her any closer to the altar, she did get a trip to jail for these repeated non-emergency calls.
8. Traffic Complaints
Joe McCain – incidentally the brother of Senator and former presidential nominee John McCain – found himself in a Virginia traffic jam just a couple weeks before the big 2008 election. Impatient, he called 911 to moan about the situation.
When the operator asked, “Sir, are you calling 911 to complain about traffic?”, McCain responded by swearing and hanging up. It does not appear that charges were filed in this instance.
9. A Bad Manicure
Unsatisfied with her manicure, Cynthia Colston called 911 four times to have police intervene in the situation. Even after an officer arrived on the scene to handle her complaint, Colston continued dialing the number, a fact the police said was the main motivation for charging her for abusing emergency services.
Amusingly, Colston wound up having to remove her fake nails after being sent to jail later in the day.
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