The Sonia Show

Writer. Podcaster. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.

Public Enemy is right, you guys. 911 is a joke.


Yeah, so, last night I called 911 twice, because there was a strange man on my patio. It took the San Francisco Police Department 90 minutes to show up.


When you call 911 you kinda expect the police to show up right away, don’t you? Mighty, mighty good man David travels for work once a month. I don’t sleep super awesome when he is away. Every little sound at night gives me the creeps, but I was able to go to sleep knowing that if someone tried to break in I could call 911 and the SFPD would come. Well, that peace of mind is pretty much ruined for me. Now I’m not so sure that the police will come if I call 911. This is disturbing and upsetting. Public Enemy is right, you guys. 911 IS a joke.


Why didn’t the police come right away? I understand that the police are busy, but 911 is for emergencies, right? I wasn’t calling because I want the police to come over and watch cartoons with me. I’m calling because it’s an emergency. When I called the second time, the 911 operator told me to make sure my doors were locked and to call 911 again if anything happened. In other words, “Hey, if the situation gets even worse, call again so we can not respond again.”

Something is happening. That’s why I’m calling 911!

Ugh. Goodbye, sleep.

I’ll start at the beginning. Here’s what happened.

We rent a house in Glen Park. Our landlord has hired a contractor to do some work on the garage and outside of the house. Most of our windows have plastic tarps taped up over them so you can see in or out, except for the window in our hallway, which overlooks our patio.

David is traveling this week, so it’s just me and Calvin at the house. We came home around 5:30 p.m., and there was a man on the street in front of our house. I didn’t recognize him. I would recognize the contractor. I’ve seen him before, but I hadn’t seen this guy.

We parked and got out of the car. Calvin walked up to him and said “Hi.” I pulled Calvin close to and asked, “Are you working on our house?” He said no, and then starting talking incoherently. He was frantic and giving off a really scary vibe. I couldn’t make out any of what he was saying — some English, some Spanish, all fuckin’ crazy. I tend to trust my gut in these situations, and I didn’t like what my gut was telling me about this guy. Finally, I said, “I have to go now. Have a good night.” And we walked up the stairs.

Our house is up some stairs and in the back. You have to go up the stairs, pass the in-law unit and then to the right there’s the stairs to our house and on the left is our patio. After we got in the house, we went about our usual routine. I went to my bedroom to take off my boots, when I happened to glance out the hallway window (the only window not tarped up), and I saw the strange man on our front patio. He had moved up from the street to our patio.

He was just standing there — staring at the house.

I called our landlord to ask if the man he hired was working with a team of people, and did they have a key to the house? I became very worried that this man maybe had access to our house. The call went to voicemail.

I called David to ask if he knew about who was working on the house. He said that our landlord was using the usual contractor. If I don’t recognize that man I should call 911. “Even if he is working for the contractor he shouldn’t be there now. Call 911.”

So I called 911.

I explained what was going on and gave them a description of the man. I also added, “I’m here alone with my 4-year-old son, and I’m really scared.”

David stayed on the phone with me. He planned to stay on the phone with me until the police arrived. Thirty minutes later, the police still had not arrived, and the man was still standing on our patio, staring at our house. At one point, he saw that I could see him, and he walked behind our shed where I couldn’t see him. Eventually, probably when he thought I wasn’t looking anymore, he wandered back out on the patio.

I called 911 again. This time, so nervous and anxious, I started crying on the phone. “I called more than 30 minutes ago,” I cried. “The man is still here. I’m really scared. Why are the police not here? I’m here all alone with my little boy. Please tell them to hurry.”

That’s when the operator said the police were on their way, and they would call me when they arrive. She also told me to make sure my doors were locked and to call 911 again if anything else happened. I wanted to yell at her, “I’m calling now! I’m trying to prevent anything else from happening!”

I went into my bedroom and got out this big club that my dad had given me when I moved to San Francisco in 2008. Seriously, as a housewarming gift, my dad gave me a big stick to hit people with. I set it by the front the door.

At the one hour mark the police still had not arrived. The man was still there, watching our house. I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do. If I were all alone, I would have picked up my big stick and walked out and confronted him. But, with Calvin at the house, I was too scared. What if something happened to me? Then my 4-year-old autistic son would be all alone in the house with this creeper.

I couldn’t wait any longer. At the hour mark, I packed a bag, put a leash on the dog, and told Calvin that we were going to run to the car and go see Grandma. “Go see Grandma,” he said excitedly, and he ran to get his coat. I looked out the window again, and the creeper was still there.

Before I opened the front door, I told Calvin, “Let’s run to the car, OK? We’re going to run as fast as we can.” I tried to make it sound like we were playing a game.

I opened the door, and we all ran to the car. I didn’t even look at the creeper. It was like something out of a horror movie. We couldn’t get into the car fast enough.

I drove off, and then I parked a block away. I called David to let him know I was OK, and asked him to call the woman who lives in our in-law unit to let her know that a fuckin’ creeper is hanging out on our patio, and I’ve called 911 — twice. I wasn’t 100% sure she was home, but just in case she was, I wanted to warn her. I called good buddy Corso, who was supposed to be coming over to hang out, to let her know there was a change of plans. And then called my Mom and started sobbing, “Can we come over and spend the night?”

The SFPD finally did show up — 90 minutes after my first call.

After talking to David, the woman in the in-law unit tried to leave her place and ran into the creeper. He started talking crazy to her, too. That’s when the contractor who is supposed to be working on our house showed up, followed shortly by the police.

The contractor told the police that this man worked for him; that he hired him to help work on the house, and that he left him behind to finish some work and then he would pay him. Eventually, the contractor and the creeper left. The police left, and the woman in the in-law unit left because she was too scared to stay, because THAT MAN IS CREEPY AS HELL. After it was all over, she called David to let him know the police had been there, and she confirmed that the man was definitely crazy and she was going to stay at her boyfriend’s place that night.

The landlord spoke with the contractor, and the landlord told me the contractor’s version of the story, which is “The guy works for me. He was working on the house.” Basically, the contractor is trying to cover his ass with the landlord. He doesn’t want to admit that he hired someone sketchy to work on the house, and that the sketchy bastard was caught casing the house. That creeper wasn’t working on jack shit. I watched him for more than an hour. He was hanging out on our street in front of our house. After we went upstairs, he followed us and stood on our patio. He wasn’t working on anything. He stood on our patio for a total of TWO HOURS! He was staring at our house like a goddamn psycho.

A little part of me is worried that I over-reacted, and I’m worried what the landlord thinks, but a bigger part of me trusts my gut, and my gut told me that the situation was not safe. My #1 priority is Calvin, and the hell with everyone else. The situation did not feel safe to me, and I was genuinely scared for our safety. I am 100% convinced that guy is a creeper, who was planning to break into our house. I didn’t beat cancer just to get killed by some asshole that really wants a nice TV. Also, our TV isn’t that nice. It has scratches and shit on it.

So, yeah, I suspect we won’t be seeing that guy again. Also, I think we need a security system now. It’s the only way I’ll get any sleep when David is out of town.

I’ve never called 911 before. I am so disappointed in the police response. I’ve always believed that the police would be there right away if something bad should happen. I guess I’m really naive, right?


Author: The Sonia Show

I'm a writer/podcaster/mother/goober in San Francisco who likes to drink beer, shop, laugh and make other people laugh, watch old movies, feed my unhealthy obsession with pop culture, kick breast cancer's ass, go on adventures with my mighty, mighty good man David and my awesome autistic son, Calvin, wear orange and root for the San Francisco Giants, participate in general jackass-ery, talk about TV, eavesdrop on strangers' conversations, make nerdy “Star Wars” and “Simpsons” references, and post personal things about myself on the web for all to read, which makes me some sort of literary exhibitionist.

13 thoughts on “Public Enemy is right, you guys. 911 is a joke.

  1. sadly this is SOP for the SFPD these days. We have a serious problem in our neighborhood with a new group of very aggressive, very drug/alcohol/whatever folks that are not afraid to pick a fight with someone for “looking at them funny” and yet when you ask the SFPD to enforce the laws they asked us to pass, they always say they are busy.

    ps: this line is epic “I wasn’t calling because I want the police to come over and watch cartoons with me. I’m calling because it’s an emergency. “

    • I feel a little bad criticizing the police, because they do a job I would never do, and risk their lives to protect people. However, my son and I needed some protecting last night. We were really scared.

  2. Goddamn it, he was standing on your porch for 2 HOURS?? WTF. I would have been terrified. You absolutely did the right thing and if you see him again you should try to get video. I mean, you shouldn’t even have to do that but if the contractor claims he was working…

    Sheez. So sorry that happened to you. I live in BFE but the one perk is that the cops have nothing better to do and they come right away.

  3. Man, that is terrifying. Glad you guys are OK.

  4. You just made me realize I don’t even own a big stick. I mean, my husband has guns, but I’ve never touched one in my life. I suppose if someone tried to break into my house I could throw guns at them, but that seems counter-productive. I’m glad you’re all okay. This was scary to read, let alone live through!

  5. Before 911 we could call for the help we needed. We could call our local police precinct or an ambulance or the fire department now we have a middle man. When 911 takes calls, and they get a lot of calls those calls delay response times. Basically you explain all about your issue and the operator makes a judgment call about whether she thinks you actually need help and if so how important your call is. She then decides who is the best choice for her to send out and then calls their dispatcher. That dispatcher then listens to her version of your problem, decides if she thinks you need help and how important it is then she puts out a call and waits for officers in the area to respond if they are ready to take the call. Then and only then do the police even know you need help…. Sound like a big huge suck fest? Yes, it is. Here are things you can do to speed along the process.

    Don’t offer reasons why the man might not be a danger to you and don’t sound calm. If you told the dispatcher he might be a worker she will assume he is. Instead, go with the worst possible scenario. Tell them who you are and where you are then tell them that some strange scary guy confronted my son and I in the yard, he was verbally crazed and I had to run into the house to hide from him. Please help us he’s on the front porch and I think he has weapons…. OH MY GOD!!! HELLLLLPPPPPP. …scream that last part, then hang up after slamming some pans around. Don’t answer when they call back or leave the phone off the hook. They will likely send way more help than you need way faster than you need it.

    • That’s probably the way to go! I don’t think I told the 911 operator that he might be a worker. I just said there was a strange man on my patio. The second time I was crying I was so scared. Your advice isn’t too far off from the advice my dad gave me which was to suggest that I had a gun (I don’t) and I was going to take care of it myself (I wouldn’t).

      • Another good idea is to find out where your local precinct is and start dropping in with treats for them. Most cities only allow gifts under $20. Ours has 18 regular officers on duty which means at $20 a pop I have lots of room to work with. Usually I take a cookie basket or fruit trays or a BBQ basket with all the supplies for them to have a cookout or a gift card basket or tickets to a local game or concert etc. I take the time to get to know the officers personally. I have two or three officers business cards in my wallet who will make sure I get the help I need when I need it. Since I do a lot of helping and volunteering in some pretty risky areas of town it’s nice to know the guys have my back.

  6. So scary! Glad you guys are okay but can’t believe the police took so long to respond. You did not overreact, you did the right thing even if the police didn’t respond as they should have.

  7. Pingback: ‘Go kick the styrofoam heads around’ and other random things I’ve said today | The Sonia Show

Leave a comment, you guys. It's fun!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s