Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An expensive small error

A couple of days ago, I was calling a local friend when I made a rather expensive and embarrassing mistake. Our area has grown enough that even when you are calling someone with the same area code, you now have to dial that area code.  My area code is 919. 

I started punching the number I was calling into the very old handset of my land-line phone.  That phone is old enough that the keys are sticky and sometimes repeat. So, by accident, I dialed 911. To the best of my knowledge, I did not hit the Talk button to make the call and instead immediately disconnected.  I figured that because I had not sent the numbers, I was safe.  I then dialed the correct number and began a conversation.

During that conversation, I heard the sound that alerts you to an incoming call, but I ignored it; I was, after all, already talking to a person.

When I disconnected, I checked to see the source of the call I'd missed and found that it was my city's emergency services group.

Oh, shit. 

Either I had accidentally transmitted the numbers, or phones automatically send as soon as they detect 911; I don't know, and I don't plan to experiment to find out. 

I immediately called 911, tried to explain my error, and was routed twice before I got someone who would listen.  That person informed me that because I had not answered the return call, a law-enforcement officer would have to visit my house.  I tried to save them the expense, but to no avail; the rule is that they have to come.

That rule even makes a certain sense, because what if I was being coerced to say nothing was wrong?  Erring on the side of caution is fine by me. 

So, the officer came, was fully aware he was wasting his time, was nonetheless gracious, and left.

I hate that I wasted his time and cost taxpayer money. 

I think I owe my local sheriff's office some cookies. 


J. Griffin Barber said...

They'll appreciate the cookies, and don't usually mind coming out on infrequent 911-in-error calls. Better nothing than blood on the walls and screaming babies, generally.

That said, don't make a habit of using that handset ;-)

Mark said...

I definitely won't.


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