Talkin' Trash About the City's 311 System

The Schutze household has been working on a mystery all day about how to call the city for bulk trash pickup if the trucks keep skipping your block during pickup week. We found that we could not reach 311 -- the service number for the city -- from our cell phones or from our home line.

Every time we tried, we got a recording that said, "Your call cannot be completed." So, naturally, I called Frank Librio, the media spokesman for the city, with my issue. I mean, what is this guy even there for if not to help media people with their problems? I'm going to call him some day when I need a ride. That's how strongly I feel about it.

Anyway, Mr. Librio wrote to me this afternoon as follows:

If you have a Dallas-area area code and you call within city limits, you should be able to dial 311 directly from your cell. If you are having difficulty it may be a carrier or provider issue. If it is a carrier or provider issue -- you can reach 3-1-1 via cell by calling 214-670-5111.

We've tried on our end for the past hour using cell and land lines and have had no issues. 311 did have a similar issue with two other residents and the issue turned out to be a provider/carrier issue.

So, our cell phones should work. They don't.

Toward the end of the day, it occurred to me that our home land line is some kind of flaky U-verse optical-illusion technology that sends our voices out through the microwave oven or something, I think, so maybe that's an issue. I know sometimes a deep booming voice from inside the microwave gives me commands, but I could just never bring myself to do something like that to Wilonsky. But wait, that's a whole other matter.

On the 311 thing, the big discovery is 214-670-5111. If I am not mistaken, that's the old information number that dates back to before 311. We used it, and it actually worked. From home. So there's your work-around. Maybe.

Sadly, however, this afternoon I called both 311 and 214-670-5111 repeatedly from the office and got the same fast-busy, which I think means either they're having a party at 311 headquarters or there has been an enemy take-over.

Anyway, Librio is very nice to help.

My late father-in-law had the best system. He used to wait for the trash trucks with a frosty six-pack under one arm and some greenbacks in the other hand. The man got better service than the media.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze