What’s the scoop? What’s the poop? What’s the G2? What’s the 4-1-1??
These are all slang ways to ask about what is going on, what is the “insider” information. In military parlance, the “2” group is intelligence. “G2” refers to divisional (or above intelligence), whereas, say S2, is staff intelligence at a lower level, usually brigade.
A cool, hip way to ask “what’s going on” about 10 to 20 years ago was to say, “Hey, what’s the 4-1-1.” This was a play on the phone company’s information number, 4-1-1, a way to get phone number listings in most locations.
It’s a surprisingly little known fact that n-1-1 is a useful number in most locations in the US and Canada, and is governed by the North American Numbering Plan, which sets standards for how phone numbers are set up. I just learned this last month (or was it the month before??).
What are the other n-1-1 codes or phone numbers? We all know about 9-1-1. That’s for emergencies. And now we all know about 4-1-1. What about the others?
2-1-1 provides information and referrals to health, human and social service organizations. Think United Way, or how to get help with housing, health or simply paying the electric and water bills.
3-1-1 is for getting non-emergency help or assistance from local government (usually your municipality). Some examples might be: an abandoned car, general public safety concern such as burned out street or traffic lights, dead animal removal, or roaming packs of dogs with foaming mouths.
5-1-1 is one that you might have seen before. It is for getting information on local traffic conditions. In some areas you can also learn about public transportation and carpooling options at the 5-1-1 number.
6-1-1 is for reporting problems or concerns with phone equipment. Many cell phone service providers use *6-1-1 to get help with your cell phone.
7-1-1 is used for the Telecommunications Relay Service to translate from TDD (telecommunications device for the deaf) to speech, and vice versa. I’m not quite sure how it works, and hope to never need it (although my hearing is fading while the tinnitus is as strong as ever) … but it is important enough to be a federal code and have the FCC (federal communications commission) chime in that it must apply to VoIP phones, too.
8-1-1 has different purposes in the US and Canada. In the US the number is used to get help locating buried utility lines. You might have seen or heard the line: “Call before you dig. ” Well, the number to call is 8-1-1. In Canada the number is for getting health care questions answered and in assisting with individual health care, such as for patients who are far-flung from most medical services and doctors. Canada is big … really big.
There is no 0-1-1 or 1-1-1 phone number. This would conflict with rules of the aforementioned North American Numbering Plan. 0-1-1 is the code that an international phone call is being made. After 0-1-1 the country code is expected to follow … so while you are waiting for someone to answer the call, the phone computers are waiting for you to enter a country code (e.g. 49 for Germany). And 1-1-1 is equally confusing: the beginning “1” signals the computer you are calling long distance — the computer is then waiting for 10 more digits.
I suppose these rules could be modified to account for more n-1-1 codes. I say that because it wasn’t too long ago when all area codes had a “0” or a “1” as the middle digit (out of three). And local exchanges never had a “0” or a “1” as the middle digit. These have fallen away, driven mostly by the need for so many more phone numbers (and area codes).
It’s often said that the only thing constant is change. So probably all the phone rules we now take for granted will change too. Hey, who remembers rotary dialing? Not that long ago, was it?
Now you have the poop, the G2, and the 4-1-1 on n-1-1 phone numbers.
Joe Girard © 2018