Never say “It’s quiet.”

There is a rule among dispatchers: never, ever, EVER complain that things are quiet. Don’t even speak the words in a happy tone… You can say, “it’s uneventful” as long as you quickly add, “so far…”

Bee and lavender
We’re busy busy today…

What happens when you say things are quiet? Chaos ensues, almost immediately.

An officer spoke the magic words this morning. And faster than we could say “Supercalifragilistic Expialidocious” or even “Shut the Hell up!” the phone started ringing. And it has been chaos until a minute or two ago, when things have finally started to calm down… for now.

We’ve had:

  • A minor disturbance in the library
  • A medical emergency
  • A fire alarm/electrical problem at a satellite campus
  • TONS of Lost and Found
  • Unlocks and all the usual stuff

Just to name a few. Because either nothing happens, or everything happens at once. It’s Murphy’s Law. Back in the days when I worked as a waitress, (I still have occasional nightmares about the Cracker Barrel Days) it always seemed like people only came in clusterf*cks. It could be the middle of the afternoon, when the lunch rush was over but it wasn’t time for the dinner rush, and we’d get three busloads of people who were not even affiliated with one another suddenly stop by, just after the manager had sent a bunch of servers home.

Of course, at a 9-11 call center, stuff always happens all at once, but it’s potentially so much worse than anything that happened here today SO FAR. If you think about it – when there is an accident, you receive multiple calls about the same incident, and as a call taker, you have to determine first if it is the same event, and then if the caller on the line has further pertinent information to contribute.

Yes, when stuff happens, it’s an adrenaline rush. Yes, it makes us feel more awake, and more alive. But it’s a pretty crappy day for some of the people who are making these calls.

Seven months before we moved to Gainesville, there was a horrible event on I-75 between Gainesville and Ocala. Eleven people died in multiple crashes that were a result of blinding smoke and fog on the highway. While training, we listened to some of the calls. It was horrifying. I find myself wondering, did someone that night complain that it was too quiet, that they were bored?

I’ll take a boring day any day, for the greater good of the Cosmos.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals at work or at home? Feel free to share in the comments.


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