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10-1

Anybody who works on set and who is slightly immature, by which I mean grips, just giggled at the title.

You see, channel 1 is the main production line on the walkies. Anyone could be listening, so you shouldn’t say anything that you don’t want other people to hear. You’re also supposed to follow certain rules of decorum, like not swearing and not saying, “I have to go take a piss.”

Besides being inaccurate (you’re actually leaving a piss), it’s rude. Instead, you’re supposed to say, “I’m going ten-one.”

This seemed strange and arbitrary, so I did some poking around to figure out where this curious term comes from. Several people told me it is short for 10-100. A quick search of Wikipedia tells me that they must have rounded up. 10-99 is the actual code for “Need To Use The Restroom (urinate).”

It’s also the code for “officer needs assistance/held hostage,” so that can be confusing, I imagine.

“This is officer Williams. I’m 10-99”

“Oh, God, he’s 10-99! He’s 10-99! We need back up now, God damn it, now! He’s 10-99!”

“Dude, I’ll be back in a minute.”

Not that 10-100 is much clearer. It can mean, among other things, misdemeanor warrant, hot pursuit, and dead body.

“We’ve got a 10-100 here.”

“Is he moving, or not?”

I used to work on a game show; we had contestants of all shapes and sizes. After this little Wikipedia binge, the other PAs and I started calling out 10-85 when certain, uh, plus-sized contestants were brought to set.

Come on, we’re PAs. You don’t expect us to be more mature than the grips do you?

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4 Responses

  1. I’ve worked with Police Departments all over the country and there’s a wide variety of codes they use on the radio. I’m not sure why film folks settled on 10-100 (or 10-1 because that saves two whole syllables), but it seems to be universal.

    And it really is TMI when someone announces they’re 10-200.

    BTW, as long as we’re on the subject: How can you tell the Grips from the Electricians?

    A: The Electricians take the dishes out of the sink before they piss in it.

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