Yesterday, Will and I were doing some gardening. It was one of those days where it was sunny whenever you were sitting down, then as soon as you got up to do something, rain clouds came over.
Will was trimming a thorny bush while I was having a cigarette. I’d turned the vibration off on my mobile due to the constant missile launches at Israel sending alerts to my phone all day and night long. I periodically took the phone out of my coat pocket to check notifications, and noticed that I had a bunch of missed calls from an unknown number.
I never answer the phone; my hearing aids don’t work with it and if I do have to answer a call for once, I have to put it on speakerphone and point it at my ear to make sure I get everything, and it’s just super awkward in front of everyone that is there, so it’s just never gonna happen unless I’m close to the person and I’m pretty sure it’s an emergency.
I got some more of these calls but didn’t answer them, for above reasons. Then Will told me he was getting calls too, and as they weren’t stopping, he felt he should answer one. So he did.
He wasn’t on the phone for very long, and ended the conversation with “I’ll just tell my wife where I’m going.”
So I was like ?????
Will relayed it to me as best he could; the call was from South Central Ambulance Service. A blind man with a guide dog nearby had hit his panic button, and it had apparently pinged a device in my name that was showing its location. I assume this was my phone. Apparently, my device was showing as the closest one to the man’s panic button.
Apparently they said to Will “We believe he might be in the property.”
Which he was definitely not, but it seems like it was a point they kept pressing. Will told them there was no-one in our house and we were in the garden so could see there was nobody there either. Then he went to look around the street a bit, found no sign of anybody, and came back.
A while later we remembered that Google and sat navs usually tell people that our house is at the opposite end of the street to the one it actually is. So, maybe their systems had given them our house number in error. Although that wouldn’t explain the part about my name showing up on the nearest device. But just in case, Will went further down the street to see if he could spot anyone. Again, nothing.
The police called him later on and asked if we knew the blind man, which we don’t. Apparently the police might still show up at some point to check he’s not in our house. I understand that they have to do everything to make sure someone is safe, but this seems to be disproportionately focused on us just because something in my name showed up as the closest device. And Will said that’s a poor way of explaining it to me, because he doesn’t fully get it himself.
The only things we know for sure are: South Central Ambulance Service obtained our names and contact details because a GPS panic button had gone off and identified us as the nearest people and address because of a device in my name.
Will didn’t see anybody as far as the eye could see when he went out. I don’t know if the blind man ever made it home. They even said he might have hit the button by accident while getting onto a bus at a nearby stop, and yet they still said he was most likely to be in our house.
The whole thing is just weird, and I’m worried we’re going to get a knock on the door and have our house turned upside down over a guy we’ve never met.
I’d thought about getting a GPS button for my wheelchair in the future when I’m going out alone with my next working dog, but apparently the only thing it would do is flag the nearest geolocated device and name people who probably haven’t seen me.
Will hands me snails to relocate when we’re gardening and I CAN’T BELIEVE that adult garden snails are smaller than Joop was as a baby!