‘A Google of sorts’: The wacky and wonderful calls into Calgary’s 311
Do I have any outstanding warrants?
Do I need to dial 403 before I dial 911?
How do you get cat urine out of your carpet?
Can you cook a frozen turkey? If so, how long would that take?
Of the more than 3,000 calls Calgary 311 operators answer in a day, some are bound to be doozies.
For the turkey query, the agent went beyond her job description and suggested Pinterest pages for recipes.
“We have an amazing group of public servants whose primary objective with every call is to make sure we have met the citizen’s need to the absolute best of our ability,” said Clarke Bellamy, manager of citizen services.
“But that doesn’t mean we don’t get a giggle every now and then.”
Other calls included complaints of a pancake-stealing squirrel, a restaurant possibly watering down its root beer, and deer repeatedly running through a backyard.
The City said its operators’ knowledge and reliability have turned 311 into “a Google of sorts,” with questions like, “What is the distance between Mercury and Earth?”
The 24/7 service is actually for non-emergency and non-law enforcement related concerns like road maintenance, animal services and bylaw rules.
“So much important work gets done through this service that, if we have to deal with a few queries that are a little wacky, that’s an OK price to pay,” Bellamy said.
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