Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Hello 911, we'd like to report Sam Irby’s New Yorker piece for being too real

It’s 9-1-1: Lone Star. Get it?
It’s 9-1-1: Lone Star. Get it?
Photo: Michael Lavine (Fox)

We are big fans of Samantha Irby around these parts. That’s why her latest—an excerpt from her forthcoming essay collection Wow, No Thank You. which appears in the February 3 edition of The New Yorker and was published online todayfeels like a personal attack. We trusted her. We believed in her. And yet she just peeled back the tops of our skulls and dug out what it feels like to be a person with an anxiety disorder living in a really weird world at a chaotic time? She did that, and... and published it?


It is, of course, a very good, very funny piece. But seriously, someone call 9-1-1, because Irby’s brief collection of 9-1-1 calls needs to be reported to the authorities. A few choice examples, ranked by nightmarishness, from least to most nightmarish.

Number four:

Hello, 911? That lady caught me taking a selfie and walked away before I could convincingly pretend to be holding my phone at this angle for some other reason.

The other alternative to that scenario is also a nightmare, which is that you take a bathroom selfie in private but then someone is like “LOL why do you have so much toilet paper” or something. There is no winning. Selfies must emerge from nowhere, with perfect lighting, no witnesses, and a vague sense of it having just happened all by itself. Life is a horrorshow.

Number three:

Hello, 911? What if I fall asleep on this bus?

Absolutely nothing good, that’s what, and you definitely will. Or the train, and then you’ll wind up at the end of the line with someone shaking you awake very unkindly and then you’ve got an hour to travel back in the other direction, and you are definitely going to have to stand the whole time or you’ll fall asleep again. At least you still have your purse with you—or do you?

Number two:

Hello, 911? It’s eleven-thirty at night and I’ve got an important meeting (LOL) tomorrow morning at nine-thirty. I set my alarm for eight. That should give me plenty of time, right? Google Maps says it’s probably going to take seventeen minutes to get there from my hotel, barring any major traffic, but what if the Lyft driver is late? Alternatively, what if the doorman can’t find a cab? I’m planning to go down at nine. Does that leave enough time for me to get eggs from room service? But they run late sometimes, right? Should I risk it? It’s midnight now and I think I’ll be hungry in the morning, but what if I’m not? Then I’m stuck waiting for eggs I don’t want. Maybe I should set my alarm for eight-thirty. I definitely want to sleep off this Xanax, but does that give me enough time to take an actual crevice-cleaning, hair-washing shower? Should I be honest about who I really am as a person and factor in twenty minutes of bedside-sitting-and-staring-into-space time? It’s twelve-thirty, but to be safe I’m going to set the alarm for seven-thirty. Should I attempt to impress these people with eye makeup, or do they not care because they are serious businesspersons? Let me just go ahead and set my phone for 6:55, so I have plenty of time to contour and blend (i.e., totally fuck it up and wipe it all off while crying). Since I’m up, it wouldn’t hurt to iron my pants, just in case I can’t hide my legs under a table. Why does everyone want to “meet” on couches these days? An electric chair would be more relaxing. Wait a minute—it’s already one o’clock?!


Reader, this writer lived this exact scenario last Tuesday, only it was a flight, not a meeting, and this writer definitely did not order room service eggs, because this writer was traveling for work and is a freelancer so instead ate BabyBel cheese for breakfast and then wound up at the airport three hours early.

Number one, with a bullet:

Hello, 911? I am the first person at this party.

After showing up 30 minutes late on purpose—the ideal amount of time to not leave the host wondering if anyone is going to show, allow yourself an early-ish exit, and to avoid this exact nightmare, but everyone else must have realized it’s the perfect window so now all that math has to be recalculated. Is it 45 minutes now? Help, someone, please, we’re drowning, get Rob Lowe’s fictional emergency responder on the line immediately.


Samantha Irby is a very good writer, and you should read the piece in full.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!