Answer Line: Number on driver’s license is not a substitute for 911 | Local News

Editor’s note: Answer Line was on a mission this week. Look for new questions and answers coming back soon. In the meantime, enjoy these October 2012 best-ofs:

QUESTION: On the back of the Texas driver’s license is a phone number that can be called for “roadside assistance”. Since the reference to this number does not indicate that it must be an emergency, what type of response can the caller expect (for example, having a vehicle towed, repairing a flat tire , delivering fuel, mechanical assistance, etc.)?

ANSWER: You should only call this number, 1 (800) 525-5555, in non-emergency situations, including if you are stuck with car trouble on state or federal roads in Texas, if there are road conditions dangerous, debris on the road or if you see anything suspicious in a rest area or a drunk or dangerous driver.

“This is not a substitute for 911, nor is it a customer service line to answer questions about driver’s licenses or other routine questions for other divisions of the (Department of Public Safety of Texas),” according to the Texas Department of Public Safety website. “It’s for motorists who have a legitimate need for assistance on Texas roads. Despite what some emails say, motorists who call the toll-free number do not receive a free annual tow or a free fuel voucher.”

When you call this number, someone from the Austin Communications Office of the Department of Public Safety answers and takes your information. This information could then be used in a number of ways – it would be sent to the local police department if you are in a city or to the appropriate sheriff’s office if you are in a rural area, or if no other agency is available, your call can be forwarded to the nearest Department of Public Safety communications office.

Basically, this phone number connects you to people who can help you call a tow truck or a locksmith, for example, but you will be responsible for paying any costs associated with this.

Q: I just finished lunch at Cracker Barrel and I have a burning question that I’ve always wondered about: do you eat oatmeal with a spoon or a fork?

A: I’ve always eaten oatmeal with a spoon (with cheese, salt and pepper), but what do I know? I turned to experts: Diane Pfeifer and Barbara Richardson McClellan. McClellan, of course, is the News-Journal’s longtime food columnist, and Pfeifer is the author of a comprehensive cookbook of all-grain recipes, called “Gone With The Grits.” She is also the creator of Grits Bits, “bite-sized cookies baked with oatmeal”. She has been featured on all kinds of TV shows and publications.

Here is Pfeifer’s take on the matter: “Definitely a SPOON, otherwise a ‘grits’ might fall in your fork!”

McClellan, however, thinks you have more flexibility: “Grits: Fork or Spoon: I did an unofficial poll of the six people I know who love grits. Their answers were the same as mine. they are runny (thin) , you would use a spoon If thick (as I like them) a fork can be used but I haven’t noticed Miss Manners hanging out at Longview lately so I don’t think anyone will be arrested for using either. Personally, I love oatmeal, but it seems that for breakfast, hash browns rank way above oatmeal.”

I also found an etiquette teacher from Florida, “Miss Janice”, whose website says “Oatmeal is always eaten with a fork, as it must be thick enough not to bite through your teeth”. She says they should also be eaten from a plate, a rule I always break.

And There you go. Do whatever you want, but I plan to continue eating oatmeal from a spoonful, out of a bowl, because that’s how I roll.

– Answer Line appears on Wednesday and in the Weekend edition. Email your questions to [email protected], leave a message at (903) 232-7208, or write to PO Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.

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