Yesterday, I casually mentioned my car going up in flames. It’s usually difficult to just make passing mention of something so dramatically unusual as that without expanding on a few details, so let’s do that now.
It was a hot summer day and I was driving through the Homewood section of Pittsburgh on Bennett Street, heading out of town when I noticed some white smoke in the air. Then I noticed that the white smoke appeared to be coming from under the hood of my car. In fact, it definitely was, and it was getting worse. Uh-oh.
Before I left the house, I noticed that my cellphone battery needed to be charged, so I plugged it in and left it there. I was just running out for some quick errands, and I shouldn’t need the phone anyway, right? … Right? Well it turns out that I did need to call someone and I needed to call someone NOW. I pulled my car over to the side of the road, got out and ran to a guy on a nearby street corner who may have been waiting for the bus. “Do you have a cellphone? I think my car is on fire!” I said, pointing to the car and the smoke that was getting thicker. The gentleman didn’t have a phone, but pointed to a payphone across the street.
This is clearly becoming an emergency situation as the white smoke is turning black and continuing to pour out from under the hood at an increasing rate. I run over and call 911. This is what I heard: “Thank you for calling the city of Pittsburgh’s 911 emergency services. All of our available operators are busy right now, but you call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and hold for the next available operator.”
Chuck D and company gave Flavor Flav a track or two on each album to do his thing, be wacky and so forth. The Flavor Flav tracks area always a bit zany and fun, but here it was, my real life backing up everything Flavor Flav says on “911 is a Joke.” Thankfully, this wasn’t a medical emergency or a situation that required immediate police assistance, but I was still pretty dumbfounded to get put on hold by 911.