Not too long ago the phone system at my job was changed to a new all digital system. Our phone system always required us to dial 9 to get a line out. So that didn't change. Most of the phone numbers we dial are outside of our area code we must dial 1- then the area code. So, to make a call we dial 9, then 1, then the area code and phone number. Keep in mind that we're constantly dialing out so many of us dial extremely fast not really paying attention to what we're doing. Well, some genius decided to make it so that if you dial 9-1-1 it goes directly through to the police. Therefore, we all of a sudden we started having an abnormal amount of accidental 9-1-1 calls. The city I work and live in is a small suburb so except for saving the occasional cat from a tree, the police have nothing better to do than to respond to 9-1-1 hang ups. But even when the calls were made and we told the 9-1-1 operators the call was an accident they still said their protocol is to send a unit to respond.
Now in theory being able to dial 9-1-1 directly without having to dial 9 to get a line out is a good thing. Especially in an emergency no one is going to be thinking I have to dial 9 first. Especially if it's a person that doesn't work in that office that has to make the 9-1-1 call. However, the logical thing to do after the first 5 or so accidental calls would be to change the # used to dial out right? Well as I mentioned in a previous blog my grandfather would refer to his supervisors as stupidvisors. That's enough to let you know that there isn't too much logic being used here. Needless to say that nothing was done and the accidental phone calls continued for the duration of a month.
Well about 2 weeks ago some of us employees were working on a Saturday morning. We usually begin work at about 8am. To further help illustrate the story let me set the scene for you. Our office is set up as to where there are 2 entry doors. The first door takes you into a corridor where there are 2 bullet proof glass windows for the cashiers. Then to the right of that windows there is a wooden door that takes you into the office. Yes I know you're thinking bullet proof glass and wooden door makes a whole lot of sense right? Again not my logic. But that's the set up. Also, there is a door bell next to the door for customers to ring in case there is no cashier available.
On this particular Saturday morning there were about 6 employees in the office, 5 of which were working in my department. I mainly work with females and I was was the only male there that morning. I must also mention that I am the only black male in the entire office as well. Also, Saturdays are casual so I was in jeans, t-shirt and maybe even a hat. Don't worry both of those things will come into play soon. So, about an hour into the work morning we're all working away making and receiving phone calls. Well as I'm on the phone I overheard the door bell ring. Now as I mentioned many times customers will ring the door bell when no cashier is there so I thought nothing of this. Usually when this happens someone in the front of the office will go and assist the customer or tell them to hold on for the cashier. But no one in my department usually gets up to answer the door. So, I think nothing of the door bell ringing. About 30 seconds later I hear the bell ring again. At this point although I am still on the phone, I am prepared to go and see who's at the window after I finish this phone call. However, seconds later I could hear someone opening the door up front and letting someone in.
Initially I thought that perhaps it was another employee entering the office that doesn't have a key. But when I heard the voice of a male and a female talking I knew that it couldn't be a fellow employee. The next thing I know one of my coworkers is walking past the office/room I work in with a police officer. They stop right in front of the doorway that I sit next to and continue the conversation. I over hear them discussing that another accidental call was made to 9-1-1. The officer proceeds to tell her that we will start receiving fines if the calls continue. Now all of this is standard protocol right? Well I must first mention that the officer is white.
So as Officer Friendly is standing across from me speaking with my coworker I notice out of the corner of my eye that I'm being stared at. However, I continue to work as normal. As he continues to talk and explain about the fines, etc. he is no longer paying attention to my coworker. Instead he continues to talk and listen to her while keeping his attention on me. Well much like rapper/producer J.D. says "Ya'll know what this is!!" Trust I knew what time it was like Big Ben. He was zeroing in on the most suspect thing/person in the office. The black man sitting in at the cubicle working. A black man working in an office setting, wearing jeans, t-shirt and a hat! What can be more suspect than that? Now keep in mind the only people visible to him are 1 other coworker, myself and the coworker standing and talking to him. Also I must state that I have no police record or outstanding warrants, so again the officer's suspicions were not warranted.
But let me attempt to understand this logic. I break into the office hold the employees for hostage in an attempt to obtain money. In the midst, someone calls 9-1-1 but I catch them and they hang up. So, instead of fleeing the scene when the cops come I tell everyone to play it cool and no one gets hurt. So I sit at a random cubicle and put on an operator's head set and pretend to be making phone calls like the rest of the employees just until the cops leave. Now I know there are plenty of dumb criminals out there. But I'm sure if the dumbest of criminals read this scenario they'd say "I'm not even that dumb."
But back to OFPD's finest. So as he stared me up and down he proceeded to tell my coworker that someone should have answered the bell because he was a second away from kicking in the door. Now I had one major problem with this comment. Kicking in a door actually requires lifting your foot. And by the looks of this officer he hasn't been required to pass a physical in quite some time. But I'm sure the local Dunkin Donuts had a picture of him on the wall as a preferred customer. So, after staring at me for a minute I guess he concluded his investigation and felt like the coast was clear and I wasn't a threat. Keep in mind the office extends past where I am. But he didn't continue to check out the scene. So there could have been more of my black accomplices toward the back of the office.
But I guess that it could have been much worse. I could have had pistols drawn on me and been handcuffed until a coworker screamed out and identified me as an employee. I guess being a young black male I should be used to the cops perceiving me as a threat or suspect. However, even after 28 years on this planet it is still not a feeling one gets used to. Although, as I stated this was a mild version of police harassment. However, getting pulled over by the police is a more frequent occurrence. That is almost an expectation when driving (I'll leave my brother to tell about the number of times he's been pulled over by the police in a future blog and or book, the number will shock you). But the last place I expected to have an encounter with the police is sitting at my desk at work trying to earn a living. Oh after this incident management finally decided to listen to the employees suggestions and changed from the #9 to the #8 to dial out. Finally, to that officer although I should use a certain N.W.A. song to conclude this blog I won't. Instead I'll leave you with the title to this blog which shares the same name as the Public Enemy Song 9-1-1 Is a Joke!! Kick It Flav!!!