It reads like a scene from an Abbott and Costello comedy routine: a woman calls her local police department to report a hit-and-run, but the dispatcher has no idea what she is talking about.
It transpired that the woman was attempting to contact police in Barnstaple, England, but was connected to police in Barnstable, Massachusetts.
Evidently, Barnstable, Massachusetts police dispatcher Mark McWilliams is unfamiliar with Muddiford, Ilfracombe, the tight bend, and the farm on the side.
“Where are you?” he inquires of the female. When he receives the same response, he tries a different approach.
“Okay, can you provide me with a landmark?” The man asks the lady. “I apologize, but I’m having some trouble hearing you.”
The realization that a mix-up has occurred gradually dawns on them as they continue in good spirits to attempt to clarify the situation.
“Then where have I called?” the woman inquires.
McWilliams responds, “The Barnstaple Police Department has been contacted.” “From where are you calling?”
“Illfracombe,” responds the woman. “You cannot be a local, since Illfracombe is the next town after Muddiford.”
McWilliams deadpans, “You’ve reached the Barnstable Police Department in Massachusetts.”
“…then there’s no way you can help me, right?”
Polish archaeologists have unearthed a Nazi time capsule.
McWilliams stated that a portion of the uncertainty was caused by the woman’s strong British accent.
“I simply did not get what she was saying,” McWilliams later told NECN News. “I was unsure if she was referring to Burger King. She speaks with an accent.”
As the reality of the error dawned on both parties, they laughed over the mix-up.
The woman later explained to the BBC that the mix-up occurred when she asked Cortana, a digital assistant comparable to Apple’s Siri, to phone the number for “the Barnstaple Police Department,” but received the US version instead.