Last week the garbage collection driver forgot to swing back around and do the pickup on my side of the street. So everyone’s bins were still at the curb when I got home at around 8pm. 3-1-1 exists for these sorts of non-emergency situations. We use that number to report dead animals, fallen limbs, and so forth. That night the system was trying to route calls to emergency services from AT&T’s mobile 9-1-1 customers as that portion of their network was down for several hours. The network has been repaired but during that time customers were unable to reach 9-1-1- operators from their mobile phones. The outage covered at least 14 states, so it’ll probably be difficult to determine how many people were attempting to call during that time.
Back in 2010 the ATM network went down, city-wide, for a couple of hours. Upon hearing that many people realized they didn’t have, and needed cash. Supposedly the Point of Sale terminals at grocery check-out lines were working. But eventually the grocer is going to get tired of $20 bills leaving the store with packs of gum being the only thing purchased. Yes they have a duty to the public but they’re in business to sell groceries, not so much as money changers.
We rely on these systems heavily and we get anxious when we’re not able to get cash, or when the card reader is acting wonky at the gas pump. This is going to happen from time to time. You can only store so much cash, so many batteries and candles. Sometimes the crises have to pass. We have to endure the outages. Failures happen and we do what we can to survive them.