Tuesday, July 29, 2008


So I'm in my home the other Saturday night, minding my own business, watching season 5 of The Sopranos on DVD (I now just need Season 6, part 1 and 2 and I have the complete set). Having partaken of a couple of Moosehead Cold Filtered Light beers, the better to watch the New York mob war heat up, I was feeling a little peckish so I headed downstairs to check out the last of the guacamole.

As I descended the stairs, I passed a small window overlooking the home of our left-side neighbour. I was startled to see a man, crouched on the sidewalk near her home. (Remember, we live in the heart of downtown; in these neighbourhoods many homes are right on the sidewalk.)

I paused. What was he doing? He actually had one hand on the house's foundation at one point. For a second I thought he was someone doing some work for her, but it was nearly dark - finishing up so late?

Not exactly. Getting his bearings, more like, before standing up and continuing to weave his way down the sidewalk in front of our house. "Ooh. Inebriated-like," I said to Mojo, who was standing beside me in the dark stairwell. Not an uncommon sighting in a downtown neighbourhood on a Saturday night, and certainly appearing relatively harmless. I continued down into the darkened downstairs of the house and passed through to the dining room, which looks out onto our right-hand neighbour's house. Our intrepid traveler was now in front of their home, shuffling, shuffling, slowing... pausing... and OOH! falling over, apparently dead drunk, like a sack of potatoes on their front lawn.

Hmm. This was different. Seeking a second opinion on whether I was about to either save this guy's life or ruin it, I pulled out my cellphone and called Husband.

"Hypothetical," I said. "Guy walks past our house and passes out on the neighbour's lawn. 9-1-1?"

"Hm. Yeah. Could be medical, y'know."

"Yeah. You're right, maybe he's not even drunk. I'll call 9-1-1."

So I did. First time in my life I ever had to. Felt a little weird. Is a passed-out-drunk-guy a 9-1-1able situation?

"Nine-one-one Neuf-un-un, what is your emergency qu'est-ce c'est la nature de votre urgeeeennce?" (Said in two seconds.)

"Um, yeah, I'm calling from 123 Fake Street and there's a man who appears to have passed out on the lawn next to my home. He appeared to be inebriated, and then he just fell down on the lawn next door. I don't know what number their house is. I'm at 123."

"Mmm-hmm and he is just lying there now?"

"Yeah - I'm concerned he might be sick. It's also not really a safe place for him to be. He's sprawled out on their lawn right next to the sidewalk." As I'm talking, looking out the dining room window with two curious cats, two bicyclists drive by, nearly running over his ankle. Neither stops.

"Well, we will send a patrol car over to check him out, ok?"

"I don't know the number of the house next door. I never realized that before. I'm at 123 Fake."

"Oh, don't worry," she said soothingly." If he's sprawled on the front lawn, I'm sure they'll see him." She didn't call me "hon" but you could hear it in her voice.

I hung up and waited, still sitting in the dark with two cats peering out the dining room window. Now I'm starting to develop scenarios. What if he gets up and leaves before they get here? Even if he doesn't, the police are going to come to my door 'cause mine is the only address they have and I called it in. I've got two cans of Moosehead Cold Filtered Light on my breath! They're going to think he came from here! They're going to think I'm lying! Domestic dispute! I called him in to get revenge! Oh my god! It's going to be just like an episode of COPS without the dirty white undershirts!

In about three minutes I saw the lights of a cruiser prowling down the street. The young cop inside spotted him, all right; spotted him and went over and woke him up, and talked to him for a long time. Then they got up and went over to the cruiser where the man took out some ID and they talked another long time. Husband arrived home. Finally the officer, having decided, I guess, that the guy was now awake and wasn't drunk enough to warrant a night in the tank, sent him on his way.

A second patrol car came by - heard it on dispatch no doubt, slow night I guess - and the two cops chatted for a few minutes, before they too, left.

As they drove away, my cellphone rang.

"Hello bonjour this is nine-one-one dispatch, we have a record of there having been a call made from this cellphone earlier, was the situation taken care of?"

Huh, I thought. 9-1-1 customer service.

"Yeah," I said. "I was concerned about a gentleman's health. He looked intoxicated." (Why am I using big words? So I don't sound like Crazy 9-1-1 Overreaction Lady?) "The officer came and woke him up and sent him home."

"Ok Ma'am, just following up. You have a good night now."

"Yeah. You too."

What a neighbourhood. What a city.



Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

An enchantingly well-written and entertaining post as usual, ronniecat. The police in Fredericton are a lot like the Sheriff's deputies out here in Boulder Creek: if the guy's just fallin'-down drunk and doesn't have any outstanding felony warrants, just prop him up and let him go.

And, oh, by the way. Just a favor to ask if, you know, it's not too much trouble? If in the future you ever disappear from this blog without warning for two weeks, and since the only thing some of us see to alert us to a new post here is the title via RSS feed, please...


Thank you. That had me worried.

4:44 p.m.  
Blogger Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

You done a good thing!

Isn't it kind of weird that when you called, their first response was to send law enforcement?? Not EMS?? Whether there was a legal problem or not, there was surely a medical problem, even if inebriation was the origin -- and all kinds of serious possibilities. If he'd had a stroke or an insulin problem, precious time would have been wasted on a second dispatch. Well, glad he was OK and the followup was a nice touch.

10:25 p.m.  
Anonymous m.e. said...

good job! what was especially impressive to me is how fast help arrived! so, good for you & husband for being good, concerned citizens and good for the dispatchers and the cops for a) getting right on it and b) following up. i've always felt canada was a very CIVILIZED country. nice to know it still is.

4:07 a.m.  
Blogger Mike said...

Yes, you should have called them two weeks ago and said, "There's a woman at 123 Fake Street who needs a laptop so she can keep her blog updated."

Isn't that part of why Canadians pay taxes, after all?

6:45 a.m.  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

Do you have a new laptop now? Is it nifty? Can you use it to update the number 8 in your link to Mojo's place to a 9?

3:30 p.m.  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

You're quick!

9:40 p.m.  
Blogger elizabeth said...

Wow. What a story.

This is a great blog! I hope you'll consider adding it to the aggregator at Deaf Village (www.deafvillage.com) -- we'd love to have you as part of our community!

9:45 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Sherwood - Sorry for the shock! Also - I'm quick? Yeah, when I'm prodded so thanks for prodding ;)

NFTP - Good point. The guy arrived in no time, though, so perhaps she was aware he was right in the area and EMS would've taken longer.

ME - We got Good Cops and Bad Cops just like everyone I guess. Not much to complain about with the local guys.

Mike - I did that once. Seriously! And got a brand new laptop.

However, I'd prefer not to go deaf again in order to get another one...

Elizabeth - Ooh, thanks for the invite! I'm going to check it out right now!

1:43 p.m.  

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