Log in

No account? Create an account
13 January 2005 @ 12:07 am
Maybe I just need a CB radio instead ...  
I have a cell phone. I bought it for emergency use, and while I don't reserve it only for that purpose, I don't use it all that much. "Should I get milk?", sure; required customer communication when I'm stuck with an on-call, fine; trying to coordinate buying a house while touring the Newport coastline with my mother, well, who *doesn't* have to do that occasionally?; random chatting, no. I try to deal with the reason for the call and then get off the line. I don't find it the most comfortable method of communication.

So it's not unusual for me to go weeks without using my cell. I don't even always remember to plug it in at night, if I carried it in a bag rather than a pocket. That was actually the case last night, though I do try to be careful about that, because my talk time on the second day isn't as secure as I like, and if an emergency should occur, I certainly don't want to cut out just as I'm giving my location.

But as I said, I don't actually use much of my talk time. Two calls in one day, when neither one has to do with, say, grocery shopping, is rather unusual.

I still feel bad about the first situation. It snowed last night, and there were a couple of inches on the ground, but the temperature was above freezing this morning. The roads seemed fine to me, though caution in such conditions is always sensible.

I just missed the light, so I was first in line when it turned. This had me leading a line of cars onto the I95N onramp ... where another car was already there, not moving. There was room to get around it because it was off to the right, and I didn't notice the brake lights being on, but the car was stopped and it hadn't been properly parked. Besides, who would park in the middle of a highway onramp? Out of fuel, maybe ... but I think I saw exhaust coming out of the tailpipe, too.

I pulled up level and saw that there was in fact a driver still in the car. I tried to get her attention to determine if she needed assistance, but I couldn't seem to catch her eye. She seemed disoriented, based on my brief view.

But ... I was slightly late for work, with a line of cars blocked by me, on a highway onramp. I knew I needed to move. With so little time to decide, I accelerated onto the highway.

I then pulled out my cell (staying in the right lane, which doesn't justify phoning while driving, but I was still a bit kerfuffled). I called 911 and explained to the initial dispatcher that there was a vehicle stopped on the I-95 onramp in North Attleboro; that the vehicle might have struck the barrier; that the driver seemed disoriented and might need assistance. The dispatcher then asked me ... which road. I repeated. The dispatcher expanded that she basically meant the intersection with which other road -- suggesting I-295 and another highway possibility. This kind of threw me for a second, since there is precisely one junction for I95 in North Attleboro and neither of her suggestions was it. I clarified, after taking a few seconds to remember the name of the road, which I usually think of as "Exit 5". Once she understood, she of course transferred me to another agency.

(This is standard. You always have to explain every detail of your reason for calling to the central agency, and then they transfer you to another agency, to which you have to give the same explanation. You can't just ask for the Cambridge Police or the Foxboro State Police barracks, even if you're certain of the jurisdiction; I know, I've tried.)

The second agency picked up with a muffled script that I took for an invitation to explain my emergency. I (re-)explained, and the chipper agency representative agreed they would send someone out.

The thing of it is, I knew I should have pulled over and tried to help her myself. I could have called 911 as I got out of the car. I have been certified in first aid and CPR. If she was injured and needed aid, I could have given it. I was even already in my coat, which I usually remove to drive. (I had gotten into the car hastily after clearing the snow from it.) Instead, I set an example that might have led the cars behind me to think that all was well, so I might in fact have prevented someone else from stopping to help her.

When I got to work, I announced to my coworkers that I was a horrible person, explaining the above. I still think I'm right in my assessment.

And yet ... "Jessie" said she probably wouldn't have stopped or bothered to call. This is a woman I like, whom I consider a friend, who is having a baby soon. I was, shall we say, startled by this information.

And then "Brazil" said that *he* would probably have honked at the woman to boot.

So they thought I had shown strong moral fiber just for slowing to check on her. Making the 911 call apparently merits a citation for bravery or something.

Then, later in the day, my mother called. I shared my story, and when I got to part in which I was pulling out my cell, she immediately said, "Good girl."

Still not happy about my choice, I tried to explain. She then came up with the rather amazing theory that I shouldn't have stopped ... because it might have been a trick to lure me into some kind of assault. Because everyone knows that the assault types often stop a nondescript sedan on a ludicrously busy onramp at about 10 in the morning in the dregs of a snowstorm and put a gray-haired dazed-looking woman in the driver's seat as a lure. Happens all the time.


Then, when I left work, as I was walking through the dark and mostly-deserted lower garage at work, I heard what sounded like a woman crying out. I paused. Now, I'm not usually the sort of person who would be described as having keen, honed senses or a sharp awareness of the world around me. (I would like to note that at this point, I managed to drop my Klondike Bar so that it rolled down my shirt and jumper, disintegrating all the way, so I should add "coordinated" to the listing of attributes I would not normally be credited as having.) For me to have noticed a small sound in the first place was rather remarkable, and I quickly cautioned myself that it might have been one of the swans, or a tardy Canadian goose, or a woman laughing up on the upper deck.

Another sound made its way to me and helped me to discard the waterfowl options.

I couldn't isolate the sound, so I moved slowly towards my car, my mother's attack theories having planted a nervous little seed. As I moved closer to my car, though, I started to notice a certain ... *character* ... to the cries.

Why, I said to myself, that sounds like the sort of sounds people make on TV or in movies when they're supposedly having sex!

It was about then that I noticed the other car. It was parked oddly, backed into the very corner of the lower garage, wedged into a space that just fit the car but clearly wasn't designed to. A very stealthy position.

After considering for a second, I got into my car. I started, pulled around, and then circled so that I could approach this other car from the front rather than the side, shining my high beams on it. I couldn't tell for certain if the car was occupied, much less if people were having sex in it, and less still if that putative actvity was mutually consensual ... because the windows were pretty much completely fogged up.

Wow, I thought. That really happens?

I pulled away and moved my car out of the garage. But the fact remained that I wasn't absolutely certain of what was going on and there was the small possibility that the woman I had heard was being hurt. So I stopped the car opposite the employee entrance, determined that since it was 8pm I wouldn't get in without leaving my car and waiting at the entrance phone, and reached for ... my cell phone.

(Insert heroic music here if you care to. I'm going to start humming "Iron Man". The version by The Cardigans.)

I thought about calling 911 again, but I really wasn't sure it was police business, and I certainly didn't feel like explaining this situation several times. After a moment's additional consideration, I instead called my company's main number. An Operations staffer from another building answered, so I asked for Operations for my building.

Once I was transferred, I explained. I started strongly and clearly: "I, um, well ... uh ... okay, I'm an employee, and I have a really strange one for you." I told OpsBob that there might be sex going on in the garage, and that I couldn't be absolutely certain that this was an entirely benign activity, so if "somebody big and burly" could go check, that might be good. He clarified the location with me (which was good, because he didn't interpret "northwest corner" as meaning to the, y'know, westerly side of the garage). I also offered the license plate number if he wanted, even though there wasn't much of anyone down there. (Yes, even though I didn't get a description of the vehicle beyond "small and dark" ... and, um, fogged-up ... I took down the plate.) To my surprise, he actually did want it, once he acquired a functional pen.

It sounded as if he actually planned to investigate. That might just be because the company wants to ensure that the sanctity of the garage remains unsullied. It is a "family-friendly" company, but I'm pretty sure not to the point of hosting that particular stage of family-starting.