By Joyce Tremel
Some of you may recognize this blog. It was originally posted last year about this time. I'm recycling it for lack of an interesting subject this week.
It’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air, houses are decorated with pumpkins and ghosts. The kids are planning their costumes, and moms are buying candy. Evenings are spent in front of the fireplace, maybe with a mug of apple cider. Yes, it’s the time of year when I answer the phone at the Shaler Police Department and get the inevitable caller asking, “When is Halloween?”
Huh? Why, everyone knows when Halloween is, you might think. October 31st, right? Well, for most people it is. But not, apparently, for these callers. Believe it or not, every year I get at least a half dozen people calling to ask that question. I always say, as politely as possible, “October 31st.” After that, I usually get some explanation of why they asked such a stupid question, like other places have Halloween on different days. This is the point where I want to scream. I could explain to them that Halloween is always October 31st, and some places might trick or treat on another day, but Halloween doesn’t change dates. Not being one prone to verbal excess, however, I keep my mouth shut.
The calls that come into the station are all non-emergency calls. (The emergencies go to the Allegheny County 911 dispatch center.) Most of them are people calling to talk to one of the police officers to file a complaint or report something minor. Some are from insurance companies requesting accident reports. Sometimes I get calls from confused elderly people (one woman complained that the police were at her house stealing her windows. They weren’t.) None of these calls bother me. It’s part of my job, even though I’d get a lot more done if the phone wasn’t ringing every couple of minutes.
The ones that irk me are the stupid callers, or the ones who are too lazy to find the information themselves. At least a dozen calls a day are from people who say, “I didn’t want the police. I wanted the township office,” like it’s my fault they dialed the wrong number. I politely give them the correct number, but I’d really like to tell them to learn how to read the *@%$ !#* phone book. Yesterday I had a call from a guy who asked when the garbage company was picking up the leaves. I told him I had no idea and suggested he call the garbage company. Then he asked me for their phone number.
If you happen to be driving through Shaler in the next few weeks, just ignore the screaming banshee you might hear. It’s not a ghost or goblin coming after you. It’s only me—the normally sedate police secretary who just received one call too many.