Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's That Time of Year--Again

By Joyce Tremel

Some of you may recognize this blog. It was originally posted last year about this time. I'm recycling it for lack of an interesting subject this week.

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air, houses are decorated with pumpkins and ghosts. The kids are planning their costumes, and moms are buying candy. Evenings are spent in front of the fireplace, maybe with a mug of apple cider. Yes, it’s the time of year when I answer the phone at the Shaler Police Department and get the inevitable caller asking, “When is Halloween?”

Huh? Why, everyone knows when Halloween is, you might think. October 31st, right? Well, for most people it is. But not, apparently, for these callers. Believe it or not, every year I get at least a half dozen people calling to ask that question. I always say, as politely as possible, “October 31st.” After that, I usually get some explanation of why they asked such a stupid question, like other places have Halloween on different days. This is the point where I want to scream. I could explain to them that Halloween is always October 31st, and some places might trick or treat on another day, but Halloween doesn’t change dates. Not being one prone to verbal excess, however, I keep my mouth shut.

The calls that come into the station are all non-emergency calls. (The emergencies go to the Allegheny County 911 dispatch center.) Most of them are people calling to talk to one of the police officers to file a complaint or report something minor. Some are from insurance companies requesting accident reports. Sometimes I get calls from confused elderly people (one woman complained that the police were at her house stealing her windows. They weren’t.) None of these calls bother me. It’s part of my job, even though I’d get a lot more done if the phone wasn’t ringing every couple of minutes.

The ones that irk me are the stupid callers, or the ones who are too lazy to find the information themselves. At least a dozen calls a day are from people who say, “I didn’t want the police. I wanted the township office,” like it’s my fault they dialed the wrong number. I politely give them the correct number, but I’d really like to tell them to learn how to read the *@%$ !#* phone book. Yesterday I had a call from a guy who asked when the garbage company was picking up the leaves. I told him I had no idea and suggested he call the garbage company. Then he asked me for their phone number.

If you happen to be driving through Shaler in the next few weeks, just ignore the screaming banshee you might hear. It’s not a ghost or goblin coming after you. It’s only me—the normally sedate police secretary who just received one call too many.


Anonymous said...

Joyce--May be the same entry, but it's not the same year! What "chill in the air"? Good grief, do you believe how warm it is? And the forecasters are predicting temps pushing 80 on Monday. I'd like to hope that this warm weather means a quieter Halloween season for you, but somehow I suspect that, if anything, it'll be worse. Hang in there.

Ramona said...

Joyce, just FYI, not only police depts. get dumb calls. Loooong time ago, I worked at a science center that included a planetarium. A lady called for the planetarium director to ask a question. It was, "What comes after a kajillion?" His answer, "A kajillion and one." She was FURIOUS and wanted him to be immediately fired. We all wanted to give him a standing ovation.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone ever call to ask when is Christmas?

Annette said...

I suspect we're going to pay big time for this warm weather. We'll probably have a blizzard on Halloween! Remember that one year? When was that? '93?

Joyce Tremel said...

I know, Mike. I can't believe this weather! The trees are still green. I heard next week it's going to be colder.

Ramona, that's hysterical! He gave the right answer, though. No one asks about Christmas, but they do ask about the Fourth of July. I know they mean our township celebration, but it still bugs me. And why are they asking the police department???

Annette, I don't remember the year, but I remember Jerry taking the kids trick or treating in the snow one year. They had to wear coats and boots with their costumes.

Joyce Tremel said...

Annette, the blizzard was March 13, 1993. My nephew got married that day. We were one of the twenty people out of a hundred or so who made it to the reception. Getting home was fun.

Anonymous said...

My favorite dumb question, which I was asked by a Cleveland cop, was, "How many of you are there?" He apparently meant how many were in the group I was with when we stopped at a Perkins Pancake House before driving back to Pittsburgh from a Pink Floyd concert, but I really had a hard time not saying, "One." [Or, judging by the way he looked at us, "I am legion," but that might have freaked him out way, way too much.]

I also enjoyed it when a pedestrian shouted through a bus door, "Are you a 67F?" and the driver answered, "No, I'm a 61C." I could have sworn he was a human being . . .

Anonymous said...

I think my all-time favorite dumb caller was the lady who called and asked the dispatcher if she could please give her the number to nine-one-one.

The woman even went on to say that she had the number written down somewhere, but couldn't find it and she was much too upset to look.

By the way, when is Halloween in Shaler this year?

Joyce Tremel said...

Lee, I decided this year that I'm telling everyone that Halloween is cancelled. Good thing I don't need my job.

Annette said...

Joyce, I remember the blizzard in March 1993, but there was a big Halloween snowfall one year, too. I remember because we had tickets to Les Miserables in Pittsburgh and had to take the big 4x4 which does not fit in city parking garages (too tall). And I remember seeing the kids trick or treating in parkas along the way.

Martha Reed said...

My mother asked me when is Christmas this year, and I replied: December 25th. I'm not sure, but I think she wrote me out of the Will with that one.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joyce

I wonder if people respond differently to Halloween when the weather is so weird. If our drought gets any worse here, they'll be finding bodies in the empty reservoirs and handing out bottled water for treats instead of candy bars. First time I ever remember thinking, "What a gorgeous day....wish it would start raining". Remember when we were kids and on the day of our annual school picnic at Westview Park, we'd put a statue of the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary...for those who aren't Catholic) on the window sill facing out? That, of course, was to ensure that it wouldn't rain that day, so we could ride the Thunderbolt more times than I care to admit. Well, yesterday, I put said statue on our back screened porch...requesting a reversal of that request. Got a sprinkle, but waiting for the statue is still visiting on the back porch. I guess it's no worse than burying St. Joseph's statue upside down, to assist in a quick sale of your home. Some quirks last for life!!

Your sister, Amy