Hold Please...

December 30, 2008

Yesterday afternoon, as I was driving home from work, I rounded the corner to find five hollow-headed kids running and jumping all over the semi-frozen lake.

In the dead of the winter, once the cold really sets in, the lake turns into a city of it's own--the snowmobiles carve roads, the ice-fishing shacks pop up next to them, and the drunks make snow angels in the dead of the night. It's all very picturesque.

But not yet.

So far this winter we've watched the lake freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw, only to freeze and thaw again--and after last week's warm spell, the lake is definitely on the thaw. The ice seems to be an inch-or-so thick, covered with thin puddles, and dotted with occasional holes.

It's not ready for walking, it's not ready for running, and earth to all junior high students...IT'S MOST DEFINITELY NOT READY FOR JUMPING!

So I drive by, spot these little dumb-butts, and think to myself, "She-ut. I can't let those crappers just fall through the ice." They were hundreds of feet out, and honestly, I have no idea how a rescue would work when they all plunged through at the very same moment.

What could I do? I pulled into my driveway, grabbed the portable phone and dialed the police.

It rang, and rang, and rang. Finally, on the fifth ring, someone--as in an electronic voice--picked up the phone.

Hello it said. You're reached 911. Please don't hang up.

*Uh yeah, wasn't planning on it,* I say to myself in my head.

And some hold music kicks on.

I wait about twenty seconds, and hear: Hello. You've reached 911. Please don't hang up. And the music continues to play.

*Nothing like a little elevator jazz to hold you over while you're having a heart attack,* I think.

The voice repeated itself twenty seconds later, and again twenty second later. Suddenly it began to dawn on me how lackadaisical and monotone this voice really was--and I started to feel angry.

*Can't they at least find a voice that sounds like it cares* I think? *Can't this robot express a teeny bit of urgency?*

Finally, a real person picks up....

DISPATCHER: 911, what's your emergency?

ME: There are five unsupervised kids playing on thin ice.

DISPATCHER: Seriously!? Oh my gosh, that's so dangerous!

ME: I know, that's why I called.

DISPATCHER: I can't believe how stupid kids can be!

ME: Um, yeah. Do you think you can send an officer by the lake to take care of it?

DISPATCHER: Let me transfer your call.

By this point I was ready to throw some rope over my shoulder, drag my canoe down the road, and execute a solo rescue.

Moral of the story? Try not to get hurt while you're passing through my little town--chances are, you'll die of exposure.


Sarah said...

Are you serious!? Madness!

Cheryl said...

I saw the same stupid shenanigans going on up here on a local pond. Open water near the bridge, and a few feet away there are people running around on the thin ice. Luckily it's only a few feet deep there.
I never heard of being put on hold when calling 911. That's nuts!

wendy said...

I think your stories are hysterical.

Caroline C. Bingham said...

Wuh? That's not allowed.

Sarah said...

Oh my gosh! that is honestly the worst story!? I might have freaked out on the operator!

Grandma said...

too many stories about kids on ice have tragic endings...good thing you saw them ,but nuts about their 911 response...if they can call it response!

Katy Shamitz said...


Nothing is quick in Maine.

lifestudent said...

You know, it happens in big towns too. People call the police/ambulance and nobody shows up, or they take their time cuz they dont think its serious, etc. But being put on hold is pretty crazy. What if you were calling because you had only a minute to live and were going to make a dying confession? Or reveal the name of your killer? Guess all that fun (Lifetime Movie) stuff wouldnt happen in your town!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Not surprisingly, everyday life in Maine was predicted by The Simpsons 14 years ago:

Bart: [watching Flanders] An ax. He's got an ax! I'll save you, Lisa! [tries to walk on his leg, falls back] Uh, I'll save you by calling the police. [dials 911]

Voice: Hello, and welcome to the Springfield Police Department Rescu-Fone[tm]. If you know the name of the felony being committed, press one. To choose from a list of felonies, press two. If you are being murdered or calling from a rotary phone, please stay on the line.

Bart: [growls, punches some numbers]

Voice: You have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one.

What town in Maine o you live in? Springfield?

Heather of the EO said...

There's some sort of Weird Experiences Cloud following you around. Just thought I should let you know.

Laura said...

Wait, they actually all fell through the ice while you were watching? Or was that a what-if scenario?

Either way, horrible that 911 put you on hold.

chattypatra said...

Isn't it great to see your tax dollars at work? You should install an especially loud alarm in your house and - if you ever have a 911 emergency - you can press the button and let everyone else in the neighborhood call them! I should forward your letter to the major and the governor. ;)

"Come visit Maine, just don't have any emergencies, folks!"

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

That is crazy?! I don't think our 911 is that bad. Mainly because they are bored out of their skulls so they pick up on the first ring....excited to do something. Anything!

Michelle Glauser said...

I don't want to think about ice for a long time.