I’ve dialed 911 only two times in my life.
The first time was a mistake (long story). The second time, it was because my car had burst into flames on the highway.
Actually, it wasn’t the whole car that was on fire—just the engine.
I was cruising down Binford Boulevard after work when I noticed that everybody was passing me.
It didn’t bother me at first.
I just assumed that this was a natural reaction to the fact that I’m the only person on earth that actually drives the speed limit.
But after a while, I started to notice something weird. I noticed that even when I pressed down on the gas pedal, my car wasn’t moving any faster.
My first reaction was to look in my rearview mirror to see how many people I was successfully annoying.
Imagine my surprise when I didn’t see anybody behind me at all.
All I could see was smoke bellowing from the back of my car.
I always feel like a G when I remember how skillfully I maneuvered the car across the four-lane highway that day. I calmly turned on my hazard lights, checked my mirrors, and didn’t hit anybody as I made my way to the side of the road.
Now, what happened when I got out of the car is a completely different story.
I had no idea my legs could move so fast.
The second my car was parked, I was out of the vehicle and a quarter mile away. Standing at a distance, palms sweaty and heart racing, I noticed that smoke wasn’t just coming out of the back.
It had started coming out of the engine as well.
I panicked and dialed 9-1-1.
Operator: “911, what is your emergency?”
Me: “I was driving down the street and my car caught on fire. I don’t know what to do”
Operator: “Did you actually see a fire?”
Me: “Uhmm. No, but I definitely saw the smoke”
This is when I started to consider that maybe my car hadn’t actually caught on fire. Maybe this whole debacle had more to do with the fact that the car was 12 years old and my mechanic had already told me that the engine had a crack in it.
But it was too late to turn back now. I had already dialed 911.
I had to stick with my story.
Operator: “Ma’am, did you feel any heat?”
Me: “I don’t know. I just saw smoke and I got out of the car as fast as possible. Help me!”
Operator: “Okay… Keep a safe distance from the vehicle. Help is on the way”
I’m not really sure what I was expecting when the operator said help was on the way. But what I got was definitely not what I would have imagined…Continue to part 2
- What help did they send?
- Was the car actually on fire?
- What happened to the car in the end?
- What did I learn from all of this?