Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid to do this. Other times I can’t believe I accept any amount of money whatsoever to put up with the bullshit that accompanies this job. Nevertheless, this line of work is certainly never dull.

While it is true, that a significant portion of the population is so incredibly stupid as to warrant their euthanization (at least if I were King), the trick is not allowing yourself to be convinced that that portion is a majority…thus one would become an asshole, believing nearly everyone they encounter is the same “John Q. Public” that dials 9-1-1 every single day because they lack the same level of common sense that God bestows to the humble turkey.

Even so, I inevitably find myself expecting less reason and achievement and more chaos and failure from Mr. John Q. every time I venture out of my world and into his. Though I have grown to develop a certain level of detest for stupidity, the irony of it all, in fact, is that stupid people keep me in business. Without them, there would be much less demand for public servants, sworn to help those who are incapable of helping themselves. And so you learn to love ‘em a little, as scary as that sounds. The entertainment value alone makes it almost bearable.

How can you help but laugh at the person who calls because “The rain stinks.” You certainly can’t reason with them. They’ll never consider the fact that “something” stinks and it just happens to be raining. No…it must be the rain. There’s poison in the rain and something must be done. So you tell them that you’ll “check it out” and then just hang up and laugh.

Ever see the old Warner Bros. cartoon with “Sam the Sheepdog” and “Ralph the Coyote” from the Bugs Bunny / Roadrunner Show? These two guys would hit a time clock in the morning, fight and scheme against each other all day long then punch the clock at the end of the day and leave as pals till the next morning.

Pitted against one another, they accepted the fact that the existence of one justifies the need for the other…and vice versa. If it weren’t for coyotes trying to kill the sheep, there’d be no need for the sheepdog, thus Sam would be out of a job. So a mutual level of respect developed…. Ralph had his job to do, and Sam had his own.

That’s life in the 9-1-1 call center. Sometimes you love ‘em. Sometimes you hate ‘em. But never forget, that at the end of the day…they need you…and you need them.

By John Dunn
The writer is 9-1-1 call operator in Florida
Read more from him at


  1. We in Uganda have a phenomenal example of GROSS STUPIDITY called bodaboda drivers. These are vespa riders who for a fee will, defy all laws of road-use, physics and common sense to get you where you want to go.

    My problem is we enable them!! I have seen ladies take tumbles from the backs of these bikes that would make a Hollywood stuntman pale. I have seen instantaneous high-speed side flips from the prone position, spectacular (striptease) back-flips and even the very rare but highly sought after front-flip-over-the-rider-rear-passenger-dismount!! When a Ugandan thinks they are late, they will brave this peril apparently. we have even had out president use them!!

    I ask you, who is the more stupid? The rider or the passenger. I believe you call them “Organ donors”?


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