This month in 2003, New York City launched its 311 service, a service that has helped residents with a wide range of non-emergency issues… and a few absolute head-scratchers.

The concept of 311 came a few years before New York’s service launched.

The concern at the time was that people were calling 911 for issues that were serious, but not 911-level emergencies.

The idea behind 311 was that it would give people a different way to report an issue to their city, and thus keep 911 dispatchers free to deal with emergencies of life and limb.

Baltimore launched the first 311 network in the mid 1990s, encouraging people to call in situations where there was “urgency, but no emergency.”

Many other cities set up their own systems soon after, including New York City.

And over time, these phone-based networks expanded to give people ways to report their issues on the web, through text messages or even direct messages on social media.

In the first year alone, New York’s 311 service was getting, on average, 15,000 reports a day.

And the city says there were more than half a billion 311 contacts In its first two decades.

Most of these contacts were for the exact kinds of questions 311 was meant to answer.

New York’s 20 year report on 311 says it saw spikes of calls during big events and crises, like natural disasters, COVID-19, or the Great Recession.

People have also regularly asked questions about day-to-day issues, like whether schools are closed for the day, or issues with parking or trash pick-up.

But in that report there’s also a page with the title “Calls to Remember.”

Here are some of the 20 most memorable questions reported by 311 dispatchers in New York, presented in full and without comment:

  • “Can you check if my boyfriend is married?”
  • “Is there a law limiting how many times you can flush the toilet?”
  • “Where does Santa land in Manhattan?”
  • “I’d like to report my neighbor for waving to everyone on the block.”
  • “I’d like to file a noise complaint against my refrigerator.”
  • “I’d like to report a ghost in my window.”

It’s probably not a surprise that the report did not list the answers the dispatchers gave.

Part-time cat at Namba-Marui, Osaka – Japan
byu/Markov_DG ininterestingasfuck

A user on Reddit just posted a video that I sure didn’t expect to see.

It appears to show someone operating a checkout at a market in Osaka, Japan – while in a full-size realistic looking cat costume.

And as you can see, they were able to operate the touchscreen.

State of NYC311 20th Anniversary Report (

Part-time cat at Namba-Marui, Osaka – Japan (Interesting as F___ on Reddit)

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Photo by Alexander Rabb via Flickr/Creative Commons