It was less than 10 minutes after I’d bid my friend Cat a good night when I heard a voice downstairs. After a lengthy doggy cupcake making session for Jillian’s birthday party, we were pooped. And 2 a.m. was a little early even for party goers who want to beat the crowd.
Half dressed in my PJs, I craned my neck around the door jamb.
Phew. Just Cat. I figured she’d left something behind. Or maybe she wanted first crack at those cupcakes?
Not quite. Her trip home had been interrupted by a giant tree taking up the entirety of the roadway. Driving carefully because of the settling fog, she was lucky to avoid a crash.
She was afraid other people wouldn’t be so fortunate.
So I called the Sheriff’s Office. The dispatcher was honest. They were tied up. Try the State Police.
He started to give me the appropriate phone number, but I stopped him. In my line of work, these are the kind of numbers you store in your head.
Knowing the Roscoe barracks was likely shuttered by now, I called straight to Liberty and started my spiel.
The trooper was dumbfounded. “Where is this Ma’am?” he asked.
I thought I’d just told him that. But I was half asleep. So I said it again. “Callicoon Center.”
“Can you spell that for me?” he asked.
Ah. A rookie. Just shipped in from out of the area, he evidently didn’t have the foggiest idea what I was talking about.
So I spelled it. Then I spelled the names of the roads. With Cat’s help, I pinpointed the tree’s location down to the number of miles past the Callicoon Center Firehouse.
I figured he was all set.
He asked for my name. OK, I figured, why not? “Jeanne, that’s J-E-A-N-N-E. Sager. S as in Sam…”
“Middle initial?” he asked. Now I was a little miffed. I just wanted to report a tree down and get back to bed. But I supplied it, along with my date of birth and phone number.
When he came to my address, I couldn’t help it. “Do you want my mailing address, my physical address, or both?” I asked, in my sweetest sugar pie voice.
“Physical, Ma’am.” I couldn’t get him to laugh. I just answered. But I wondered, what else would he want? My vaccination record? My mother’s maiden name?
It was 2 a.m. I wanted to go to bed. And he wanted me to share my life story. For a tree. Not a murder. Not a domestic dispute. A tree in the road.
I understand rules are rules, but I had to wonder about the people headed down the North Branch Road at 55 mph. The people who would have been warned of a tree up ahead if he’d alerted the fire department right off the bat.
Couldn’t he have asked me to hold on a few moments then come back and explained, well, we need to ask a few questions in case we get lost on the way and need to contact you?
I wasn’t expecting him to tell me he was filing my information so I could be charged with a false report if I’d made it up. But when he asked me how big this branch was, I had to wonder – should I have bothered?
“It’s not a branch,” I repeated, launching into my story for the third time that night. “It’s a tree, a really, really big tree. It’s blocking the entire road. And it’s foggy. And it’s a 55 mph zone. Someone’s going to get hurt. There’s going to be an accident.”
I sighed and hung up the phone.
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