For some people, calling 911 operators is a joke or a game or they simply don’t know better. Reddit users who work as police dispatchers shared some of the most ridiculous, the dumbest non-emergency calls they’ve gotten over the years. And they’re as frustrating as they are funny.
Scroll down for the best of the worst stories. And make sure to read our interview with a psychotherapist about the type of stress emergency services operators face while on the job, how not to bring that stress home from work, and why people call them when they don’t have emergencies. According to her, when people understand that their jobs are meaningful, they’re much more resilient to the stress they face.
And remember… call the police when there’s an actual emergency, not because you have nothing better to do. Oh, and a quick reminder that you call 911 to reach the emergency services in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The number is 999 or 112 in the United Kingdom, 112 in many other parts of Europe, and can vary from country to country around the world.
My grandma used to call 911 to have the fire department bring her milk (she lived next to the fire department). She did this multiple times. Eventually, the fire chief gave her his direct line and he brought her milk until she came to live with us. She passed away in 2004.
My grandma was in the early stages of dementia when this was happening, and it was a small-town fire dept with a chief who had known her for 30 years.
We reached out to a psychotherapist based in Lithuania for a chat about police operators and dealing with the stress of the job. She preferred to remain anonymous because of how sensitive her work is.
“People working in emergency services are usually trained on how to react. The entire process usually has a very clear algorithm of actions, the call is standardized and streamlined as much as possible,” she said. “When you clearly know how to act, there’s a bit less stress.”
This guy calls early in the morning to report a forest fire. He goes on saying it’s getting closer and then goes silent. He then said never mind. The forest fire was the sun coming up. He admitted that he normally isn’t up at this early in the morning.
CALLER: There is a shark in the ocean.
ME: Yes, ma’am, that is where we keep them.
“Usually, stress arises from confusion, a lack of clarity, as well as either too few or too many choices,” the expert told us.
“If an operator is facing a very difficult situation, they can reduce their stress levels with the help of their colleagues,” she said that the dispatcher can ask their coworkers or supervisor for help or redirect the call to specialized services like firefighters or emergency medical services.
According to the psychotherapist, having clear boundaries and responsibilities both help 911 operators from bringing their jobs and the stress back home with them.
Reporting the moon missing.
Imagine having so much faith in your local police department that you think they can recover the moon.
When my daughter was 5 she spent a week with my dad. He gave her an old iPhone to play with. He said he got a kick out of it bc she has been “fake talking” to someone all week. Well towards the end of the week she handed the phone to him and he played along and said hello. It was a 911 operator! She had been calling all week to chat with them. They weren’t mad but wanted to let my dad know that out of service iPhones can still call 911.
Had a guy call, in a serious panic, saying someone was trying to break into his house. He sounded super panicked, anxious. I heard loud knocking through the phone. The caller also threw in “I pay your f**king taxes now SEND THE F**KING COPS, I DON’T WANT TO DIE”, etc… I could hear that constant loud door banging and a muffled voice. The guy then throws in “I just had pizza delivered here, and now I have someone trying to break into my house!!”… and then I could hear through the phone, the delivery guy say “sir, you forgot your change!”, over and over. That was back in 2009 and still bothers me at the utter stupidity.
Someone called to tell us we don’t need to use lights and sirens at night on our emergency vehicles because it woke up their baby.
According to her, sometimes even when people directly express these needs, they still don’t necessarily have them taken care of. “However, when they get in touch with emergency services, they feel like they’re being listened to. Sometimes, even an entire team of people reacts to a single person’s problems. It might be that these callers do need (a different kind of) help, but they’re lost or don’t know better and try to look for solutions by calling emergency services.”
CALLER: I want to report a robbery.
ME: Tell me what happened.
CALLER: I am at Burger King and I ordered 6 chicken nuggets but they only gave me 5.
Tons of calls about people being the “wrong” race in their neighborhood.
Guy called 911 before because he ordered a Filet-O-Fish from the drive-thru at McDonald’s and it had ketchup on it.
He was adamant about wanting the police to show up…His “argument” was that he worked at McDonald’s when he was 16 and you don’t put ketchup on Filet-O-Fish.
He got the police alright…and a DUI charge.
CALLER: There is this light in the sky, out over the harbor.
ME: (looking out the window from which I can see the area). Sir, that is the moon.
Two women called screaming so violently I was convinced they were being mauled or murdered. Their neighbors ferret slipped under the door to their apartment.
Ambulance dispatch. Called for us to hand them the remote from across the living room. Yeah.
On the iPhone you can snooze your alarm by pressing the lock button, coincidentally you can also call 911 by pressing the lock button multiple times, I’ve done this twice now and both times the guy on the line laughed at me.