When your house is on fire or youve just witnessed a car accident, 9-1-1 is the number to call.

When your streetlights are out or buffelgrass has sprung up in your neighborhood, then 3-1-1 is the number for you.

I recently applied to be a call taker for 3-1-1, the City of Tucsons answer to those who have everyday, non-emergency questions, for my ongoing Hiring Heidi series.

While the stakes are not as high, there is something satisfying about helping those in need of assistance, day in and day out.

As I adjusted my headset and sat down at the wall of monitors stationed in front of me at my desk, I have to admit I was a bit nervous.

Things got off to a bad start.

I was too slow picking up my first call. Another call taker got to it first.

Then a second call came through.

311, how can I help you? I asked.

I need to get fingerprinted, the voice on the line said. I want to be a volunteer for my daughters school.

I guided the caller to the citys website, where one can schedule an appointment to get printed.

Youve been extremely helpful, the caller said.

Yay! That felt pretty good.

The initial excitement was short-lived as I settled in and got back to work.

I accidentally tapped into someone elses call. The call after that was a report of shots fired off of North Oracle Road. I transferred that one to Tucson Police.

The job interview was over after that. I clocked out and called it a day.

I loved taking calls and helping others, but was I good enough for full-time employment?

With a little more training from our robust training department, you are hired, said Twila Brewer, the 3-1-1 supervisor monitoring my progress.

Give me a ring the next time you see an abandoned shopping cart on your street or need graffiti removed.

Well talk then!