Thursday, April 03, 2008
Life In El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Today, I attempted to call the police. No emergency, but as a minor public safety person, I thought I should get this fellow some help before he got himself, or someone else, killed.
Seems this apparently drunken bum was prancing about (on foot) in the lanes of a very busy boulevard. He survived as long as he did mostly because afternoon traffic was beginning to get heavy and cars weren't going as fast as they otherwise would. There was a lot of horn honking and swerving.
He was carrying a cardboard sign 'pon which was written: "Please give me enough money to get enough whiskey to get so drunk I can't do this." I saw no one actually stop to give him anything.
Actually, I was too far away to see what the sign said, so the above is just a guess. Probably a pretty good guess.
I didn't have the phone number for the police, and I didn't think it was an emergency--enough to qualify as a 911 call. I dialed 411 (information) and got a robot. After following the instructions and asking for the Los Angeles police, the robot (tried to) connected me to a disconnected number.
I tried again.
This time I asked for the number, which I dialed myself.
This time, I was connected to another robot, identifying himself as Antonio Vinaigrette, el alcalde del Pueblo de Los Angeles. He thanked me for phoning the City of Los Angeles, and after a campaign ad for his reelection, then advised me that if this was a life-threatening emergency I should dial 911. Then, he repeated the entire message in Spanish! I should have been connected directly to a desk sergeant at a nearby substation but, alas, that would be too simple for this administration.
Just kidding about the campaign ad, but the fact that the voice of el alcalde answered the phone is actually kind of a campaign ad, isn't it?
To add insult to insanity, the next robot voice asked me to Dial One For English.
Well, mes enfants, I NEVER DIAL ONE FOR ENGLISH. Never.
There is no one I want to talk to badly enough to have to ask to speak the language of commerce, the language of technology, the language of America.
Those who don't speak English can dial one. Or uno. Or Ein. Or whatever. I'll dial one if I find myself needing assistance in Mexico--except, in Mexico, they don't ask you to dial one for English. In Mexico, if you don't speak Spanish, good luck. If the phones work.
What do you dial if you're an arab terrorist?
Only in Los Angeles.
I looked in the phone book to find the real phone number for the police, and learned that there isn't one(!). The only non-emergency way to get to the police department is to dial 311, which is a sort of Los Angeles information number.
There's no other way than going through that awful Antonio Vinaigrette sequence, then get asked to DIAL ONE FOR ENGLISH. Looks like the police have found a good way to eat their donuts uninterrupted.
I guess I'll follow the Duke's advice and just fire three shots into the air.