Friday, July 31, 2009

Me of the Day

Current mood: Sweaty

Currently Dying from: Socialist Healthcare, and the growing blackness of my own charred and stony heart.

# Of Calls to Police Today, and/or # Of Bodily Fluids Cleaned Up Today: None..? No work today, and I had a long nap. own tears, I guess, but those don't really count.

So Exciting: My Kickass Sister is coming to play with me as of Monday!! So soon! Four sleeps away, assuming I can sleep in this extreme Vancouver heat, which sucks some serious sweaty monkey balls.

So Depressing (in a good way...sort of): This hour-long documentary on execution (which taught me more world history than anything I learned in High School), which I found following reading the Slate's awesome reminder piece on informed consumerism (whether the product is torture, meat, capital punishment, or anything else tangible and unsavory.) Both highly recommended.

Highlight of the Day: When I was called for an interview to the job that I really really really want! So much! Eeeee!

Lowlight of the Day: When I asked my mother for a loan so that I could go buy yogurt. (She said yes...which was also a very high highlight.)

Quote of the Day: "Look how happy he is!" "He's happy because he's insane."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Police and Fire and Ambulances...oh my

There are two types of people in this world…those who dial 9-1-1, and those who don’t.

I, myself, have been dialing 9-1-1 steadily for the past eleven years. Twice, in fact, this very week. It’s been a long, eventful life. This is my story.

I suppose it all began on a fateful winter day in November, 1998, when my fifteen year old brother chased my sister and I around the house with a pocket knife. My mother (and father, for that matter) were…umm…elsewhere. Panicked, sobbing, sister locked in the bathtub, I dialed 9-1-1. An operator curtly announced my options: police, fire, or ambulance. I responded, eloquently, ‘what?’ and then eventually stuttered 'police.'

My brother, deeply troubled, eventually took the phone from my hands, in order to explain to the operator that he was chasing his thirteen and seven year old sisters around the house, with a knife, in a stabbing motion, as a joke. A joke that only he understood. A joke that was very, very subtle, and may have had a punch line ending up a blood transfusion, or a touching eulogy…we’ll never know.

Because I, thirteen-year-old Me, did the Right Thing.

I phoned the police to sob in an undignified, citizenly fashion. And help, eventually arrived. (This help was in the form of two uniformed police, a traumatized sister, a stern talking-to for my brother, and a mortally embarrassed mother, who I always assumed blamed me for the incident. Such is love.)

Thus, a calling was born.

I should mention that my brother is now a wonderful, well adjusted women’s studies major at a respectable university. He no longer chases young children around with knives, to the best of my knowledge. I phoned 9-1-1 a second time, two years later, in his defense - he was being beaten up and thrown across our living room by an even larger, more psychotic family member…er…future family member. I’m not sure if this came before or after the wedding; I suppose it doesn’t matter.

I should mention, I love my family. Really, in a way that is not even entirely sarcastic, I do. And the third time I dialled 9-1-1, it was protect them, yet again. This time, not from themselves, but from a stranger, carrying a guitar case, acting intoxicated, and trying to break through our door. Our hundred-and-fifty-pound dog, bless his heart, sniffed the door and then went to sleep. My mother was in hysterics. When the police arrived, our dog awoke and began to bark ferociously.

Shortly thereafter, my mother bought a replacement dog, and I left home for good.

Since that time, my dialing of 9-1-1 has accelerated to previously unforeseen levels.

I have sometimes asked for ‘fire’ and sometimes ‘ambulance.’ I lose sleep over which I should ask for, first, in a scenario involving all three: say a man with a blowtorch on a murderous rampage? Often, the firemen show up anyways, even if you don’t ask for them. I’m not sure why this happens. They’re never actually helpful…unless there’s a fire. There never is.

Usually, I ask for the police.

I call to report a fight between two large men at an intersection, neither of whom have teeth. I call to report a man at the bus stop declaring that he will exterminate the Asians. I call to report a scary woman, screaming at me from the bathroom, and then lurking in a threatening manner outside of the alley-way door. I call to report three men, at 2am, drilling into the door of a neighbourhood café and climbing up onto the roof.

"Really, I'm so sorry if this is nothing. It could just be impromptu 2am construction?"

And the police are always kind and courteous, if and when they show up.

Last night, after the suspected café burglary (which turned out to be a band of three legitimate rooftop cleaners who only work at night, don’t use flashlights, and forgot their key), I apologized profusely. The police said, no, no! They wish people called more often, the activity was suspicious, and they applauded my good judgment. They need more people…like me.

And I tend to disagree.

Because 9-1-1 calling, it seems, is an addictive behaviour, much like checking email, eating tic-tacs, or shooting heroin. You start with a harmless domestic knife-attack, and you progress to a few light assaults, injuries, and crazies spewing violence and blood on the street, and the next thing you know, you can’t take your dogs out for a 2am pee without four officers showing up at your kitchen table.


So, please, don't dial 9-1-1. Just...stay indoors. Close the blinds. Avoid loud noises. And everything, eventually, will all be okay.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bad Days Get Worse

Eight Hours of Work:

A woman I know, a woman named Lisa, was found, floating, in the Fraser River. She had been murdered. It was on the front page of The Province Newspaper. I wish that I could remember her clothes, or her laugh, or the sound of her voice, but I can’t.

We print out pictures, which are mug shots, and the article, which is titled ‘Downtown Eastside Sex Trade Worker Slain.’ We light a candle. We call our boss. We interrupt our boss’s father’s funeral. We tell the women.

A woman named J**** does not cry, but whispers “Lisa was my best friend,” and asks for a cigarette, and shuffles to the door. When I hug her, she is limp, and silent.

A woman named S**** is screaming in pain while I sit, quietly, sadly. Her 16 year old cousin O.D.ed this week. Two men raped her last night.

A woman won’t leave the bathroom - I just want to clean it. I work around her as she swears at me. An hour and a half later, a half hour after the centre closes, I apologize to her and phone the police. She throws a mug. She goes to the door. She turns around. She charges at me to punch me, and my coworker yells a blistering ‘no’ and jumps in her way and she stops. She leaves. I start to cry when I tell the police that it’s okay, that she left.

She comes back. She propped a door (but we shut it), and so she rings the buzzer and yells at the gate. My co-worker starts to cry, calling the police to ask for help (the say they’re very busy), and then her boyfriend if he would please come get us.

He drives around the block to make sure it’s safe for us to walk outside.