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OPINION | LET'S TALK: Exhausted man tires 911 system

by Helaine Williams | September 26, 2021 at 2:29 a.m.

I'm tired of this tiredness

And though I think I try my best

As soon as I get out of bed

I'm weary and I need to rest

— Attributed online to a song, "Can You Teach Me How to Smile?" by Vintage Future

Heaven knows I get tired, too. Tired with an intensity that, on occasion, feels like it could possibly reach emergency status.

But I try to refrain from being inconsiderately insane enough to dial 911 and vent to whichever operator should draw the short straw and answer the phone.

Yep. Another story straight from the "weird news" department: Indiana dude kept calling 911 to report his fatigue. According to the headline on a Sept. 17 story at thesmokinggun.com, the judge granted the man an "opportunity to rest up in jail." For two months, to be exact.

Definitely not the first time this country's beleaguered 911 operators have received phone calls they were not meant to handle, what with people wanting to order cheeseburgers; asking where they could buy weed; cheerily giving holiday greetings and drunkenly reporting that they're being harassed when they're actually being arrested by police officers for throwing pizza at people. Plenty of online stories and Youtube videos on these.

But take the ridiculousness of the situation away, and you have a guy with a complaint that, well, strikes a chord with all too many of us.

Daniel Schroeder, 61, of Evansville, was arrested recently after making four calls in one evening to tell 911 operators that he was pooped.

The story didn't go on to reveal exactly what Schroeder expected 911 to do about his weariness. But I get it, dude. I get it. Workwise, the projects and their deadlines add up, as do the Zoom calls and the face-to-face meetings and, for us journalists, the endless publicity requests. Personalwise, there always seems to be a meal that won't cook itself, laundry that won't do itself, a dwelling that won't clean itself, increasingly expensive groceries that won't shop for themselves (I'm gonna start ordering groceries, dang it -- I mean it this time). Stir all that together, add a pinch here and a pinch there of volunteer work. I can't even imagine being a parent of young children, especially a working one. Or someone who daily trudges to multiple, physically demanding jobs.

Oh, and there's the mental tiredness that comes from four-alarm news headlines and tough-to-get-along-with coworkers and relatives and the car/dishwasher/fridge that needs repair and the endless decisions, decisions, decisions that we're forced to make -- decisions of varying categories and degrees of urgency, to the last syllable of (our) recorded time.

Even the good stuff, such as vacations or winning the lottery, can sap our energy ... all that walking and sightseeing in the case of the one; all that moocher-dodging in the case of the other.

Schroeder's mugshot ran with the story. He certainly looked pooped ... the dead eyes. The saggy suitcases underneath them. The scraggly beard. All framed by a longish, uncombed, topless hairdo. He may well have been dog-tired, had all he could stand and couldn't stand anymore. In that respect, he's us.

But "us" doesn't need to call and bother the 911 operators, who were, I'd imagine, pretty doggone bleary-eyed themselves as they waited for calls from/about people getting robbed, attacked, hurt in accidents, killed.

This wasn't Schroeder's first hassling of the 911 system. Just the day before the "tired" calls, he'd pleaded guilty to "calling police to report that he was upset that a female relative 'was not following his rules,' " according to the story. Uh-oh. Well, nothing makes a guy more tired than vain attempts to get a hard-headed woman to do his bidding!

"A judge ordered Schroeder to serve six months in jail," goes the Smoking Gun story per the previous 911 tomfoolery, "but suspended imposition of the sentence 'on the condition the [defendant] does not call 911 unless it is an emergency.' Schroeder violated that agreement the following day."

Anyhoo, Schroeder pleaded guilty to appealing to 911 to do something about his exhaustion, and was sentenced to his 60 days of rest. Sound a bit harsh? Well, here's another thing that may have contributed to the man's tuckered-outness: He'd wasted an incredible amount of energy flouting the law. He'd been convicted four times previously for driving while intoxicated. He'd also been convicted of narcotics possession and leaving the scene of an accident.

Sixty days of rest may sound like a dream to many of us, but there has to be a better way to earn it. And there are better ways to deal with tiredness "emergencies": Prayer/meditation sessions, sleep aids and skilled massage therapists make lovely 911 operators.

Muster up some energy to email: hwilliams@adgnewsroom.com

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