erik lundegaard

Saturday May 11, 2024

DIY 9-1-1

Increasingly it feels like nothing works anymore.

Yesterday afternoon I was meeting a friend at the Mountaineering Club, a rooftop bar atop the Graduate Hotel in Seattle's University District. It was a beautiful day, Seattle's first 80-degree day of the year, and I drove over, parked, starting walking, then ran into what we often run into in Seattle: a bit of unpleasantness. This time it was a shirtless, shoeless man, 30s probably, vociferous and angry, sitting on the sidewalk. Was he talking to me or just talking out loud? I could see blood on his forehead and blood on one of his bare feet and he was asking me to call 911. It was more demanding than beseeching, but I stopped, took in the scene. Yes, he seemed to be bleeding. Yes, I guess I should call.

So I did. I explained to the female operator: I'm passing by, a guy on the sidewalk, bleeding—sotto voce: he might not be all there—and he asked me to call. 50th and 11th. Then there was a bit of a delay. She was asking more questions than I'd anticipated and eventually a male operator got on the line, too.

Male Operator: Are you near the Fire Dept.?
Me: Yes, it's across the street.
Male Operator: Well, can't you just walk him over?

I was a bit stunned. Was 911 part of the Fire Dept.? I thought it was—I guess cops? Or its own entity? Plus I'd never heard a 911 operator make this kind of request before. Wasn't it usually “Wait there.” Instead I got: “We're a little busy, how about coming over here instead.”

Me: Well, I...
Male Operator: Can he walk?
Me: I guess? It's just...
Female Operator: Sir, do you feel safe?
Me: It's more—he's not very responsive. I don't know if he would go. Again, he's not really all there.

Mostly I didn't relish the idea of trying to convince him. Because I didn't care that much. I wanted to do bare minimum. Plus, as I looked over, he no longer seemed to be bleeding from his head. And the blood on his foot seemed pretty red. Too red? Like fake? Was the whole thing a scam?

But I walked across the street, rang the doorbell of the Fire Dept., explained what was up. Everyone seemed confused by my presence, and in the end it turned out an operator had already dispatched someone, and that was that. Just another odd moment in another odd day in another odd, awful year. Walking away, I had this thought: “Even 9-1-1.”

Posted at 09:02 AM on Saturday May 11, 2024 in category Personal Pieces  
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