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“There is a raccoon eating lasagna in my yard. What do I do?”: 20 years of the New York information service


The number 311 celebrates two decades during which it has compiled numerous anecdotes and received the most bizarre inquiries

The New York City information service, 311, has just completed two decades, during which it has established itself as a mixture of Google and Wikipedia despite the advent of virtual assistants such as Alexa or Siri.

Throughout this period, New Yorkers, and many visitors to the Big Apple, have resorted to 311 to expose their concerns, complain, ask the million dollar question or even elaborate, as it also has something of a psychoanalyst's virtual couch, in a a city as fascinating as it is crazy.

Initially by telephone, and today also on the Internet and through social networks, 311 is the modern version of Pythia, but interactive.

On the occasion of the anniversary, the mayor of the city, Eric Adams, has shared in a video posted on Twitter some of the most unusual questions raised by users.

The most shocking, the most geeky of all: "There is a raccoon eating lasagna in my patio", which we assume was followed by the corresponding explanation, by the 311 operators, on the management of such a dangerous threat.

This other question is also priceless: “Can I include my dog ​​as a dependent on the tax return?”.

The deductions to which the person concerned was entitled are unknown, as well as what response was given to the New Yorker who wanted to find out if Medicaid, the public health insurance for the lowest incomes, covered an intervention of his cat.

The most common, however, are routine consultations to find a specialist or a vaccination center, complaints about noise, interruptions in the hot water supply or garbage collection, the imponderables of a city with 8.5 million inhabitants and certain dysfunctionalities in its services (the first of all, that of public transport).

That is why the interlocutors ask about the frequency of trains or buses, or about the capricious circulation of the metro lines, with their unexpected closures and station jumps.

Normal communicators, conventional, let's say, aspire to know alternative parking spaces or the necessary documentation for tax returns, but then there are the indolent,

American Idol

, and they do so by consulting 311.

"I always say that here in New York we have 8.5 million inhabitants and 35 million opinions," Adams jokes in the commemorative video of 311, a service that has received more than 525 million queries, most of them normal, during this


. .

Almost 27 million a year, to be distributed among its large population: more than 3.5 issues per neighbor.

The official name is Department of Information, Technology and Communications, but everyone knows it as 311.

Other hilarious examples: "Can you find out if my boyfriend is married?" Asked one, or one, inhabitant with a fly behind his ear.

Or this one: "Is there a law that limits how many times you can flush?"

Someone with the scare in the body called to "report the presence of a ghost in the window."

There are also unsupportive callers, even curmudgeons: "I want to report my neighbor because he greets everyone in the block" (the mayor replied to this last message between laughs, it is not known if he was referring to the interlocutor or the nice neighbor: "This He's a true New Yorker!").

"Can someone spray the trees to stop the leaves from falling?" asked, finally, a detractor of autumn, in addition to being inconsiderate, because autumn is the most splendid thing in the city.

"Can you transfer my call to a ufologist?" Asked another, fond of looking over the tops of the trees, which are known to not allow us to see the forest many times, but do, apparently, UFOs.

There are also excessively susceptible: "I would like to file a noise complaint against my refrigerator."

Of all the curiosities collected, the quintessential anecdote was carried out by the mother of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire who governed the destinies of the city between 2002 and 2013. A service operator attended to the woman, who wanted to speak with her son in a a time when mobile phones were not yet in common use.

The operator transferred the call to the City Hall and an adviser to the mayor confirmed that, indeed, the woman was indeed who she claimed to be, so she established an immediate connection with the councilor's office.

Like those who think, and there are many, that the pulse of a city is found in the markets, or in the cemeteries, or in the sum of both places, the trail of curiosities that 311 has left behind is only comparable to that of the Finds from the Lost and Found Office: They never fail to provide surprises (and questions) about the nature of mankind.

Judging by the content of the calls, working at 311 must be something of a party.

But let's see who is the operator who responds without flinching to the neighbor who asked what to do with the lasagna-loving raccoon, or that other one who consulted "the necessary steps to boil a live chicken", not to mention the one who reported the presence of a goat tied to the handrail of the stairs of his building.

We assume that these last two cases were ipso facto referred to the animal welfare service.

That also exists, see if not how fussy some have gotten about exterminating rats, also protagonists of many of the queries.

Among others, if there is some ethical way to annihilate them or if, for the sake of environmental balance, it is preferable to let them run wild.

Like now.

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2023-03-20

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