911 is not the food police or a film critic

Posted Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Audio: Hood County woman calls 911 for cigarettes

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kennedy The time was 1:18 a.m. when a Hood County woman declared a state of emergency.

Calling 911 early Feb. 11, she laughed and shouted, "I need some cigarettes!"

That's not what the operator sent.


Listen to the 911 call

Instead of a carton of smokes, Linda White, 48, of Oak Trail Shores got a visit from deputies.

She now faces a Class B misdemeanor charge of making an abusive 911 call, according to a county news release.

TV and radio stations nationwide are now replaying what deputies said was White's call, hearing her grump to a guest about "waiting all night" for an unnamed friend and suddenly announcing, "I'm just going to call 911 and tell them I need cigarettes."

For weary 911 operators, it's not that funny.

"We really have calls like this all the time," spokeswoman Alisa Simmons of the Tarrant County 9-1-1 District said Tuesday.

One day lately, an Arlington caller asked how to spell a word. Callers often ask for directions around construction or stadium traffic.

"We don't want people to hesitate to call us, ever," Simmons said.

"If there's any doubt it's a threat to life or property, call."

Otherwise -- don't.

Every police and fire department has a regular phone number for nonemergency calls.

Our 911 calls have made national news before. In 2009, a caller in Haltom City phoned to complain that A&D Buffalo's restaurant ignored a special order with her shrimp fried rice.

"He didn't even put extra shrimp in there!" she complained, leaving before police arrived.

The same year, a 53-year-old Kerrville woman called 911 to complain that her husband wouldn't eat his supper.

In 2004, a Bryan man called to report, "Somebody stole my crack. ... I want my money back!"

One of the better calls came into Tyler operators in 2006:

911: "Smith County 911."

Caller: "I'm watching a movie and a guy's beating another guy with a bat."

911: "A movie?"

Caller: "I got it from Blockbuster."

911: "OK, and what do you want me to do about that?"

Caller: "What can you do?"

911: "If you don't want to watch the movie, then turn it off."

Caller: "OK. Thank you. Bye."

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

817-390-7538

Twitter: @budkennedy

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