When Cathy and I were living in Champaign, Illinois, we had a cordless phone. (Click here if you don’t know what that is.)

But this wasn’t just any cordless phone. This cordless phone came with a fabulous feature called Rocket Dial that would automatically dial any number you programmed into it.


I’m a genius, as you know, so I programmed Rocket Dial to call “9-1-1.” Because you know, in an emergency, you simply cannot afford to waste precious seconds dialing three digits.


Anyway, one miserably hot, humid, central Illinois afternoon, I walked downtown to apply for bartending jobs. I think I hit The Great ImpastaEsquireMike & Molly’s, and Jupiter’s. I thought it would be a great idea to have a beer at each bar, not knowing this immediately terminated my chances of employment at each location. (Pro Tip: don’t do that.)

When I got home, Cathy was on the couch with the phone, crying. She had an absolutely miserable day at school, presumably due to a disagreement with her adviser. He probably wanted to discuss the definition of “is” as used in the biological sense or something equally ridiculous. (Ugh. Academia.) She needed someone to vent to and I wasn’t there so she called her sister. I sat down next to her, the phone between us. We talked a bit more and she cried a bit more.

And as we’re talking, we hear this muffled voice, like a TV on in another room. We got quiet, listened again, and realized it was coming from the phone. One of us must have rolled on to it at some point. She picked it up.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

“Uh…that’s weird. I must have accidentally dialed 9-1-1?” she said.

“It’s Rocket Dial,” I told her. She moved the phone away from her mouth.

“What?” she said.

“Nothing, I’ll explain later,” I said.


“Yeah, my husband just said something about…I don’t know, but sorry, I didn’t mean to call you!”

And she hung up.

NOW. Imagine you’re the 9-1-1 operator. You receive a call. You can hear a woman’s voice but it’s muffled. Then she acts confused: Weird, I must have accidentally called 9-1-1? Then, you hear a man’s voice. The woman apologies and hangs up. What do you do? Well, if you’re anything like this 9-1-1 operator, you send the cops to the apartment on a Domestic Violence call.

And that’s exactly what she did.

After Cathy hung up and I told her what Rocket Dial was (and what a genius I was for programming it and not telling her), we sat there for a minute. Cathy was a Rape Crisis Services volunteer and had extensive training in these types of things.

“She’s gonna call the cops,” she said.

“What? Why would sh…”


“Champaign Police, open up.”

NOW. Imagine you’re these two cops. You go to an apartment on a Domestic Violence call. A couple answers the door. The man is sweaty and reeks of beer. The woman has clearly been crying. What do you do?

Well, fortunately for us, these guys didn’t do what they could have done. They should have immediately separated us and asked us what happened. But I think these guys are trained to size situations up immediately. And while it may have initially looked bad, Cathy and I were laughing and apologizing and trying to explain the whole thing and talking over each other so much, I think they could tell there was nothing sinister going on. They were super sweet and we shook their hands and they went on their way and we collapsed in embarrassment.

So, first of all, RIGHT ON Champaign Emergency Response! Not only was that 9-1-1 operator on top of her game, those cops were there within minutes of Cathy hanging up the phone. Well done, everyone involved.

And secondly…

*raises fists and eyes toward the heavens*



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