Me: *dials 311 on speaker from passenger seat*
Cheery Female Robot: Hello! Thank you for calling 311! We’re here to help! If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 911. Otherwise, press 1 to continue in English. Press 2 for other languages.
Me: *presses 1*
Robot: Okay. Let’s get started. What can I help you with? Say what you need, like, “jackhammer noise” or “left violin in cab” or “tax preparation.”
Me: Tree in road.
Dad: *from driver’s seat* Tell her where it is.
Robot: I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.
Me: *speaking slowly and loudly, as if to a half-deaf moron* THERE’S A DOWNED TREE ON THE RAMP TO THE OUTBOUND GWB AND IT’S BLOCKING THE ROUTE TO THE BRIDGE AND YOU CAN BARELY GET AROUND IT AND IT’S GONNA CAUSE A HUGE TRAFFIC JAM IN ABOUT TWO HOURS.
Dad: Tell her Riverside Drive.
Me: Oh my God. ON RIVERSIDE DRIVE.
Robot: We seem to be having trouble. Let’s try this again.
Me: Let’s not. *smashes 0 on keypad 100x*
Robot: Okay, please wait while I transfer you to a representative. This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes. *hold music plays*
Me: No good deed goes unpunished.
Dad: *cackles uproariously*
Surly Human Female With Thick NY Accent (SHFWTNYA): 311 can I help joo?
Me: Yeah, I’m just trying to report a tree in the road.
SHFWTNYA: Okay ma’mm dass gon’ be department a parks and recreation so lemme trans—
Me: No seriously I’m just trying to stop a big traffic jam because there’s a tree in the road.
SHFWTNYA: Okay where’s the tree at ma’mm?
Me: Riverside Drive outbound ramp to the GWB.
SHFWTNYA: Okay ma’mm is it like a limba da tree or wha happen?
Me: No it’s like the whole tree. I think it blew over in the storm last night. It’s lying across the road.
SHFWTNYA: Okay it’s lying IN the road?
SHFWTNYA: Oh dass gon cause a yooge backup in a coupleah howahs.
SHFWTNYA: You know wha? Imma bring in 911 on dis, cuz dis sound like a hazard.
Me: DASSWHATIMSAYIN! *hold music*
Dad: *now collapsing over steering wheel in hysterics as he passes Kearney exit on the NJ Turnpike*
911 SHFWTNYA: 911 what’s your emergency?
Me: Well it’s not really an emerg—
911 SHFWTNYA: I can’t hear you m’aam. Wasssa address?
Dad: Tell her 1051 Riverside Drive.
Me: 1051 Riverside Drive.
911: SHFWTNYA: Wha happen?
Me: Okay, so there’s a tree in the road ...