Sunday, February 10, 2013

The road to hell

I got sent the urban myth:

I know you don't all live in Dorset but a mobile is a mobile where ever you live.

I didn't know about 112 did you?
A bit of useful advice - verified by the Dorset Police
The number does work from a mobile.

This actually happened to someone's daughter. Lauren was 19 yrs old and in college.
This story takes place over the Christmas/New Year's holiday break.

It was the Saturday before New Year and it was about 1.00pm in the afternoon, and Lauren was driving to visit a friend,
when an UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put its lights on. Lauren's parents have 4 children (of various ages)
and have always told them never to pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road , but rather wait until they get to a service station, etc
So Lauren remembered her parents' advice, and telephoned 112 from her mobile phone.
This connected her to the police dispatcher she told the dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car with a flashing blue light on his rooftop behind her and that she would not pull over right away but wait until she was in a service station or busy area.
The dispatcher checked to see if there was a police car where she was and there wasn't and he told her to keep driving,
remain calm and that he had back-up already on the way.
Ten minutes later 4 police cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her.
One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind.
They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground...... ..the man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.
I never knew that bit of advice, but especially for a woman alone in a car, you do not have to pull over for an UNMARKED car.
Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going to a 'safe' place.
You obviously need to make some signals that you acknowledge them I.e., put on your hazard lights) or call 112 like Lauren did.
Too bad the mobile phone companies don't give you this little bit of wonderful information.
So now it's your turn to let your friends know about 112
(112 is an emergency number on your mobile that takes you straight to the police because 999 does not work if you have no signal) .
This is good information that I did not know!

Please pass on to all your friends, especially any females.

As far as I am aware, 112 uses a system called triangulation so they can also pinpoint exactly where you are phoning from.


Dorset police were moved to disavow this email, by the way.

112 is an emergency number, this is true, but there's no advantage in using it over 999, in the UK. If you can't get a signal, you can't get a signal, that's what "I can't get a signal" means! There is no amazing magical number that can conjure up a call to the cops without being able to connect with a network.

I really hate this shit. It was entitled "Don't Delete!" or something like that and I should have realised then it should go straight to the recycle bin, but because it was on my work email, I wasn't expecting spammy crap. Staggeringly naive of me!

Anyway, the email was sent out under the guise of useful information for lone female workers in my office, specifically. But it really isn't and I wonder what's the real reason for sending out fear-mongering garbage to the unsuspecting?

I mean, what women lone workers really need is a good dose of fear and faulty information, isn't it?

I daresay the guy who forwarded it had good intentions, but let's look at the results.
  • Knowing about 112 is only useful really if you're not in the UK but elsewhere in the EU and don't know that country's emergency number. In the UK, 999 does just fine. So it's just adding pointless, potentially confusing information.
  • 112 requires your mobile phone to have reception, just as 999 does. If you don't have a signal, dialling 112 is just as futile as dialling anything else. So it's providing false information.
Apart from the numerous people with more sense than I than to read it in the first place, zog bless 'em, those who did read it had a wholly negative experience.

Me, I thought "Urgh, not what I was expecting to read. Why am I getting spammy shit in my inbox? Why's it always rapists? Grrrrrr. I'm going to do a quick Google to debunk this and hopefully then I can stop thinking about it.*"

I can only speculate about other people's reactions if they believed in the email or thought it might be true but didn't check. For men, they could probably dismiss the whole thing as not affecting them - or they might be worried for the women in their life.

For women, 'though, it's more of an impact. "Shit, there's something else to be worried about!"

Driving as a lone woman, is one of the less fraught with danger-messages activities. Walking home at night - danger! Public transport at night - danger! Taking a taxi - it better be a black cab (oh hang on, remember Worboys?) - danger!

'Course if you're driving, how are you going to get to your car in the carpark without getting attacked? Have your keys in your hand. Walk in well-lit places. All that 'protective', safety information most women receive over the years.

It gives a bit of a sense of control. For some people, it might be reassuring, but strangers really aren't the main source of threat for women - that's our partners & family & friends, cheerily... Of course you can't protect yourself from them by having your keys in your hand - and it's no way to live to have no trust of your loved ones - so the messages we get are about how we can reduce our risk in public places, mostly by restrictions on us. (The Reclaim The Night campaign covers this more coherently). For me, I think worrying about this stuff and expending emotional energy on it probably hasn't protected me from anything, but has detracted from my peace of mind.

So, this email buys into that happy horseshit of false control, but worse than that, inspires fear in a usually 'safe' activity.

I also think the driving aspect is interesting for other reasons. There's this discourse about 'bad women drivers' - source of jokes and pub-talk. It's not based in fact, as insurance companies (when they were allowed to discriminate on the basis of sex) saw women as a better risk than men.

Driving represents independence. It's labour and time saving. With a car, I can transport heavy loads. I can do a month's worth of shopping with kids in tow and it takes me half the time & effort doing the same would be without a car. I can get to work on time without spending hours waiting on buses. I can load up the car with my stuff and the kids and fuck off home to mother, if my relationship isn't working. I think driving is and has been a significant factor in enabling women's independence, and Saudi would probably agree, hence the de facto ban on women driving there.

So I think discourse against women driving, even when it's 'all in fun', has this background of resistance to women's independence.

Anyway, I have wandered a bit.

* That didn't work, obviously.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I fought this nonsense email from the point of view that you should never text and drive at the same time. But your points are also good. I hae any urban myth Po faced crap you get on Facebook. Abster