Crime in Britain, part 3: emergency calls

Ever wonder what it’s like handling emergency calls? You know, the pressure, the life-and-death situations, the idiot who calls because a parking meter ate his change?

Okay, I made up the parking meter, but the real stories are better. The Avon and Somerset Police took to Twitter in the hope that it would educate us about what the word emergency means. I’m not convinced it will, but it’s been fun.

For all I know, they weren’t hoping to change things but just wanted to keep themselves amused.

Anyway, since I’ve been writing about the serious side of crime lately, I thought I’d let you know what emergency calls are like before I move on to some other topic.

Let’s start with the man who reported being chased by a vicious badger. He dangled his keys at it and scared it away, he said, and he wasn’t sure where it had gone but he thought maybe someone ought to know about it. Just to put it on record, I guess, so in case it attacked again it would have a prior—well, not conviction exactly. Convictions are only possible if you’re human, so let’s just say something vaguely related to a prior conviction.

Relevant photo. I couldn't help myself. I had no idea what a badger looked like before I moved here, so I thought I ought to toss one in. This is from Wikimedia, taken by Prosthetic Head, and don't ask me what that means. I'm only repeating what the data says. It's scarier than the badger if you ask me.

Relevant photo. I couldn’t help myself. I had no idea what a badger looked like before I moved here, so I thought I ought to toss one in. This is from Wikimedia, taken by Prosthetic Head, and don’t ask me what that means. I’m only repeating what the data says. It’s scarier than the badger if you ask me.

He and the call handler agreed that he should maybe call animal control, and that got him out of her hair. Then the story was tweeted (and probably press released), and both the BBC and the Western Morning News picked it up, and even though I’m adding my miniature noise to the uproar I do kind of feel sorry for the guy.

Okay, moment of conscience over. What are the other calls like?

A man called because a gull stole his sandwich, and a woman called because a guest house owner refused to cook her a breakfast.

Let’s assume she was a guest there.

A caller asked to speak to the queen. Someone reported being splashed by a puddle. That makes it sound like the puddle was the active agent, which means I could safely insert vicious, as in splashed by a vicious puddle. Someone else complained that a taxi seat belt was too tight. A man found a melon on his doorstep, cut into slices. That’s the melon, not the doorstep. A woman reported that Mary Berry kidnapped her. Mary Berry, for those of you who don’t live in the U.K., is a TV presenter. She bakes, and she’s neither young nor threatening looking. If she kidnapped you, you could expect cake and a nice cup of tea. You might, however, have to wear an apron and learn to use a whisk. But I’m getting sidetracked. A drunk asked for a ride home.  A woman reported a wisp in her house. A man reported that his mobile phone provider was robbing him because he had no service.

It’s a dangerous world out there.

The police tweeted this kind of stuff for twenty-four hours at #ASP24, where you can still find it—or could last time I checked; I’m not sure how long these things hang around. There’s also some lovely insanity mixed into the general self-promotion if you go to @ASPoliceLIVE. I can’t put those in as links because Twitter links don’t work. Who knew that? Raise your hands please.

Even before I knew that, though, I knew they’d wreck the sentence.

And with that, I’ll wish you all a safe and happy weekend. Try not to call cops, the fire department, or an ambulance, no matter how vicious the puddles are where you live.