Calling 911
Another Day in Paradise

July 23, 1999

Like 95% of the people in LA I have a cellular phone. I've had a cellular phone for eight years now. Different phones, but I have always had a phone. My dad got me and my sisters our first phones, for Christmas, in 1991. For use in case of emergency. That was his thinking. He paid for the first year of service but I had to pay for the calls. I was pretty restrained. My commute was only about 10 minutes so I didn't spend all that much time in the car.

I got hooked. I've been through three or four phones in the last eight years. Only once have I had to use my phone for an actual emergency--my car broke down at the intersection of Burbank and Van Nuys at 2 in the morning. I used it to call AAA and then Chuck to come get me. I called my dad in the morning to thank him for the phone because I really needed one and was very glad to have it.

Since the first phone the commute has gotten longer and for a time there I used to talk my way home from work. All 40 or so minutes would be spent chatting with girlfriends, or my sister or whoever. Then the bills started getting up there and I put an end to that.

I use my phone a lot--I check voicemail, return pages, and call Chuck and let him know where I am, etc. But except for that one breakdown, I never actually needed a phone in the car. Until today.

This morning I called 911.

I was driving on the 5 Fwy. south, just after it splits off from the 101 in Downtown. I was on my way to the Citadel, a really poor excuse for an outlet mall, but they have Old Navy and a Bass outlet, and it's only 10 minutes from my office, so I go.

Anyway, just after I passed the 1st Street offramp I noticed a woman standing on the freeway. OK, she was standing at the edge of the freeway, but there she was. No broken car near her. Nothing like that. She might have been hitchhiking but it's hard to tell those things when your whizzing by at 75 mph.

Periodically I've seen hitchhikers in LA but they usually keep to the freeway on ramps. Never actually standing at the edge of one of the busiest freeways in Los Angeles (and that's saying something).

I passed the next exit and it really started to bug me. Why was this woman standing on the freeway? So I called 911.

One ringy dingy. Two ringy dingies. The phone rang eight times before the emergency operator finally answered.

I gave an incredibly accurate description considering I only saw her for a split second. I bet I would make an excellent crime witness.

The emergency operator assured me they'd send a car to see what was going on. She wasn't there when I drove back to downtown an hour later.

So, since it's Friday, Zoe and I had our usual "girls night out." Tonight it was Target. We needed wrapping paper and some cards for a birthday party we're going to tomorrow morning.

Yeah, this party starts at 11:00 a.m. in Oxnard. That's a full hour drive from here. When I rsvp'd I asked my friend what the hell she was thinking. Clearly she's still in a hormone haze since she was two month old twin girls and a three year old--the birthday boy.

I better get to bed. A lot to do in the a.m. and not a lot of time.

Until next time. . .