New York, New York VI: NYPD


nypd-web(This is the final installment of New York, New York)

I stood on the corner for an eternity and listened to the hum of New York City. A wave of relief washed over me as the all-familiar flashing lights came up the street. I walked into the street to flag the police car down, but a few taxi cabs drives got excited and immediately pulled up next to where I was standing. I shook my head and tried to shoo them away.

“No, no, I don’t need to go anywhere, I need the police, I-“

“Police? Is someone hurt?” a random jaywalking lady asked.

“No, nothing like that, there were these kids with fruit and-” I stopped because I sounded crazy. I wondered whether or not I should have gotten involved. Was I making too big of a deal? Did this stuff happen in New York all the time?

“Hey, Steph!” A familiar voice said from behind me. I spun around to see one of the people in my group. “I’ve been looking for you, what the heck is going on?”

A crowd had quickly formed around me and the police car started to travel past me.

“Wait!” I yelled. “That cop is for me!”

As if hearing me, the police officer stopped, the door open, and a giant cowboy-like man stood up. He inexplicably looked directly at me and waived me over. “You made the call?” he asked. His voice reminded me of James Remar.

“Uh, yeah, I-“

“Hop in, let’s get ’em!” he said, as he opened the door.

I ducked into the police car and we took off at full speed. I scrambled around furiously trying to dig the seatbelt out from the seat when I suddenly heard the voice of my mother in my head, “Stephie! Vhy are you in dah back of a police car? You used to be  a good girl. You never even got detentions in hice-school! But now…you’re in dah custody of dah NYPD! Vhat vill everyvon tink?”.

I glanced down to buckle my seatbelt and the Anyu’s voice continued, “You’re touching tings now? Dis cop car is for veirdos and drug addicts! Don’t touch dah seatbelt! It has AIDS and cocaine on it!” I decided that hardened criminals probably didn’t use the seatbelt, so I buckled up.

“So what were the perps wearing?” said someone in the passenger seat. It was another police officer, a younger Irish man with kind blue-gray eyes.

“Um. Big white shirt. Baggie jeans. Backwards cap. I don’t remember anything specific.” Fashion is my arch nemeses; all clothing, looks exactly the same to me. I usually notice things like “Sexy Men in Uniform” and “Chicken Suits,” but everything else is a blur.

“You said over the phone that there was a girl,” Officer #2 said, “So what was she wearing?”

“She had a white tank top on and jeans. I remember she had a thick ponytail pulled back really tight.”

Officer #1 did not seem impressed. “Well, point out the perps if you see them.”

All of New York was ablaze with backwards caps and ponytails, so my eyes grew tired quickly. I pressed my face against the glass but then remembered the all the diseases. After about fifteen minutes, it dawned on me that I was looking for a lemon in a mountain of assorted citrus – and I was failing miserably. When I made the call, I imagined a police officer would just jump out of a phone booth like Superman and immediately catch the fruit hurlers. I didn’t realize that being a police officer involved so much…looking around.

I fidgeted awkwardly, trying to figure out what to do, and my hand grazed something hard on my forehead. I grabbed hold of it and pulled out a ¾ inch piece of glass that was lodged right between my eyebrows. Blood immediately started to spurt out of the cut.

I dug around in my purse for something to stop the bleeding and only found a half-used tissue. “Uh, do you guys have a Band-Aid?”

Officer #2 looked concerned. “Are you injured?”

“No. I just didn’t notice some glass must have gotten in me from when they threw that Snapple bottle at me and broke the car windshield instead.” I was suddenly thankful that Anyu had nagged me to wear my glasses more often – they had shielded my eyes from the spray of glass.

“Do you want to go to the emergency room?”

“No, NO, I’m fine. I just don’t want to bleed in your nice car.”

“It’s okay, it happens all the time,” said Officer  #1.

“AHA!” said my mother’s voice in my head, “VHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT DAH DISEAAAAAAASE?! ANYU IS ALVAYS RIGHT!”

Suddenly, a female voice crackled over the police scanner. “We just got a call that a group of teens have been throwing objects pedestrians and passing vehicles near the park. Over.”

Another voice broke in, “We are currently in pursuit of a female in the group, approximately age 12, jeans and light-colored tank top headed south-bound towards the park. Over.”

A different voice added, “She has some sort of live animal with her…”

I almost jumped out of my seat. “THE FERRET! I FORGOT! THAT GIRL HAD A LIFE FREAKING FERRET!”

“Car 83 here,” said Officer #1,”We have a witness with us car that had a similar complaint. Over.”

“Can she identify the perpetrator? Over.”

The police officers looked back at me.

“Yah, sure, I can do that. I just have to call my friend so they know I’m alive.” I dialed the number with one hand while I holding a used tissue I dug out from my purse to my bloody head.

“Hey, am I your ‘one phonecall’?” he asked.

“Very funny. Listen, I think I’m going to be late for the concert. I have to go identify the crazy ferret girl, so what’s the address?”

“Uh, I have no idea. We’re following someone else.”

“Okay, then, well…call me when you find out where it is, and then I can ask someone around me how to get there.”

Officer #2 interrupted, “Don’t worry, Ma’am, we’ll escort you to your concert after we’re finished.”

“Okay, never mind, looks like I have a police escort to the concert,” I said.

My friend attempted to conceal his laughter and failed. “This is all going up on American Goulash, isn’t it?”

“You’d better believe it.”

We pulled up to a park that probably had about eight police cars surrounding it. There were several youths in various stages of handcuffing. It looked like a scene right out of “COPS”…which is probably why they call the  show “COPS”. I started to worry about the guy that gave me the eyeball drink. Where was he? Did he catch up with them? Was he in trouble?

Officer #2 disappeared for a while, so I attempted to make small talk with Officer #1 to ease my anxiety.

“So…how did you get in this business of…policing?”

“My father was a policeman. His father was a policeman.”

“That’s cool. So I guess you guys have a lot of stories to share with each other.”

“No. They died.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. It happens to everyone. Some more than others.”

I think he meant to say, “Some sooner than others” but I felt weird correcting him because, well…he was a big scary policeman.

Officer #2 opened his door and learned into the car. He pointed towards my window. “Can out okay, Ma’am?”

 “Yeah.” The kids were lined up against a fence. I could see them clearly, but I was suddenly a little worried that they could see me.

Officer #1 glanced out the window as well, “So any of these folks look familiar?”

“The girl on the right looks familiar…I think that’s the one. But I don’t see the ferret.”

Officer #2 nodded. “Yeah, they told me they’ve got the ferret in the squad car over there.”

I immediately thought of how funny that must look and decided that “Ferret in a Squad Car” would make a good band name.

“Do you recognize anyone else, Ma’am?” asked Officer #1.

“Uhhhh……..” There were about six male teens total – all wearing baggy shirts and blue jeans. I suddenly felt very uncomfortable. I didn’t want to point at the wrong person simply because I didn’t get a look at them. “I really can’t identify anyone else, Officers – I’m sorry. I was distracted by all the fruit, I really didn’t see anything past a ferret, some tank tops, and a ponytail.”

“That’s enough for us,” said Officer #1. “It’s a good thing you called in with those details. They found the girl with the ferret standing guard while her boyfriend held up someone in an alley with a knife.”

“Oh, my gosh…”

“Well, looks like we’ve got a concert to go to, Ma’am!” said Officer #2.

The police officers dropped me off within 10 feet of my friends and my friends started clapping as I got out of the car.“

The guy who served me the eyeball drink separated from the crowd to greet me. I was relieved to see him. “Congratulations on your first run-in with the law,” he said.

“Actually, this kind of stuff happens all the time.” I thought about Nagymama’s many run-ins with the law. “I’m beginning to think it runs in the family.”

 “So how vas your trip to New York?” my mother asked the next morning.

“Uh………” I didn’t know what to say.

Some part of me wanted to tell my mom that she was right all along. I wanted to tell her that sometimes large cities ARE dangerous, but I was able to handle it. I wanted to thank her for nagging me to wear my eyeglasses because they protected me from the glass shards. I couldn’t wait to tell her all about my trip in the police car and how we caught the bad guys. I wanted to know if kids behaved like this “in her day” back in Romania. A million questions swirled around my mind, but my mouth said, “Nothing eventful.”

When you’re a teenager, you lie to your parents to “get away with stuff”. But now, I lie to my mother because I want to protect her. I want to talk to her so badly, but I’m so scared. It’s bad enough that she believes ever word on the news and in the tabloids; I don’t want to reinforce her view that the USA is a dangerous place. I feel like our roles have changed – it’s now my job to tell her that there is no such thing as monsters.

Regardless of my good intentions, Anyu has radar about these things. “You SUUURE noting happens, Stephie?”

“Uh, no…I mean, we just took the train, saw some friends, grabbed some dinner…”

“You didn’t eat SUSHI, did you? You know, I saw on 20/20, dere was dis guy that got a 20 foot tapevorm from sushi and dey had to CUT it out of him.”

See? What did I tell you? I’ll probably tell her about my New York Adventure someday, but for now, I’ll work on alleviating her fears about things like spicy tuna rolls and sashimi.

Photo by Piotr Bizior