“I Was Just Lonely”

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A couple weeks ago, I had dinner with my new friend, Jason. Jason is a Sheriff’s Deputy. He’s been a cop for the last several years and, to me, the reason he’s been promoted and gets such respect is due to an attitude more cops should have. That is, not only the consummate crimefighter, busting down doors, making arrests, getting in shootouts – ya know, Miami Vice 20 years later.

Rather, Jason told me a story of one of the many 911 calls he responded to. See, if someone makes a 911 call, no matter what, the cops must investigate. Even if someone calls, hangs up, calls back and says, “Don’t worry about it… my cat stepped on the phone and dialed y’all”, the cops still go out.

One night, Jason was dispatched to a 911 hang up call. The caller didn’t utter a word, just dialed the digits and hung up. As Jason says, “These are the worst because you never know what you’re getting into.”

He and another cop show up at the residence. All is quiet, no outward signs of disrupt. They go up to the house, knock and are greeted by a middle aged man. Nothing seems to be the matter, so they ask, “Did you call 911?” He looked down and said, “Yeah, I did. I was just lonely and wanted someone to talk to.”

Folks, this caller is a Vietnam War vet. According to Jason’s unprofessional diagnosis, the vet is still plagued with signs of PTSD. He’s checked out from society, for the most part, but still desires that simple human interaction which everyone needs.

Upon learning there was no emergency, Jason’s partner turned to Jason and said, “C’mon… let’s go.” And he’s kinda right – there’s enough true crime going on that the cops can always have something to run off to. But Jason made him reconsider. “We’re not real busy tonight, let’s just hang out with him for a few minutes. It doesn’t cost anyone anything and might keep him from calling again later.” So, they did.

That proactive, compassionate community policing is the kind of thing we SHOULD be seeing on the nightly news… but sadly, we don’t. It’s not nearly as entertaining to the viewer as watching a SWAT team swarm in on a fugitive. It’s not as dramatic as a rollover crash on the highway. It’s not as fun as watching the cops apprehend the homeless schizophrenic who is walking down the highway naked. Yet? If there’s a problem in the neighborhood, do you think this vet will be there to help out the cops? You bet your badge!

More than anything (even more than Jason’s kindness), I’m struck by just how much loneliness there is in the world. When someone is willing to commit a crime (and dialing 911 in a non-emergency IS a crime) just because they need some human interaction, it just makes me hurt for those people.

What can you do with this information? First, look around. Who do you see who is lonely? Who do you know who may appreciate a five minute conversation? Then… is there any reason you can’t give five minutes of time to that person? And what else could you do to help them? Sometimes, just a smile is the best gift you can give!

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