Posts Tagged ‘satisfaction’

What Fire? Shut Up and Play! [***]

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment
House on FireWe often have large fires during the summer here in southern California. They last for days -even weeks and months-, burn hundreds of thousands of acres of land, destroy hundreds of homes and other buildings, and even take a few lives. Every time such fires occur, large call centers are set up so that local residents can call and talk to people who know how to properly cope with the fire (both during and after the fire). Often times, the calls are along the lines of “I am at work but my home is on such and such street. Is the fire anywhere near there?” Other times, a caller might ask, “I can see the fire from my kitchen window. What should I do now?” During a recent wild fire, a friend of mine was working in one of these call centers as an operator when she received a phone call that went something like what I have detailed below. 

Caller: Hello, I am at my house right now, and I was wondering if I should leave or not.

Operator: Are you somewhere near the fire?

Caller: Yes, I think so.

Operator: Can you see the fire from your home?

Caller: Yes.

Operator: How close do you think the fire is to your home?

Caller: It appears to be a couple of streets away. I can see some of the other houses burning.

Operator: That sounds very close. Fires can move very quickly. You should evacuate immediately. You probably don’t have time to pack anything up. Just grab whatever is most valuable to you and is easy to carry and get out now.

Caller: Hmm… I have a lot of valuable things. Too many to carry. …but you know what. I don’t think I really need to worry about the fire. Are you sure I should leave?

Operator: Yes ma’am. You are in danger and you should leave now.

Caller: [Pause] I dunno. I would be leaving all this stuff behind. I don’t think I am in any real danger. I think I should stay. Do you really think I should leave?

Operator: Yes ma’am. Please forget about your possessions and get out now. Your life is in danger.

Caller: [Pause] I dunno. I think I should stay here.

Operator: No one can make you leave. That is your decision, but you should leave. Now!

The call ended with the caller still in the house. I have no idea what happened after that. Perhaps she came to her senses and left in time, or perhaps she didn’t! What would cause a person to disregard their safety, their well-being, and even their life in the way that this lady did? I have some answers, but before I get to them, here is another story of sorts. Read more…