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Meeting the Boys in Blue


I spent most of a recent evening with NYPD’s finest. Not too bad, considering I’ve been in the city for about a week. In Florence, it took me two weeks before getting hauled to the police station in an early-morning raid and having my passport sequestered. But we all know how slowly things move in Italy, right?

Anyway, this time it wasn’t my fault. (In Florence it wasn’t my fault either, but that’s another story). The 18-year-old English girl next door somehow managed to lock herself in the bathroom. Her parents were out of town for the rest of the week. She also had the misfortune to be asthmatic and in need of an inhaler.
Somehow, this information managed to come through what previously seemed paper-thin walls but now seemed bunker-like as she wailed through them.
First call: the superintendent. He is never called just “super” because the appellation would be too misguided and, in fact, he’s no where to be found. Next call, building owner. Who says he doesn’t have the keys and that we should call the super. Right.
Third call, 911. It was harder to explain than you’d think, requiring more expertise than I would have imagined. Did the door need to be broken down? How bad was the asthma? Were paramedics needed?
There was just so much wrong with this picture. First of all, a young foreign girl alone for a week in New York. Hello? I’m just trying to imagine how the folks thought she’d get on if she’s the type of person who could get stuck in the home bathroom.
Did they just give her a cell phone, wad of cash and some take-out menus? And yes I know it’s the Big, Bad City and all that, but why wouldn’t you find at least one neighbor you could trust with the keys? I’m too used to having Italian neighbors in my business to imagine not just handing them over they keys to my house so they can at least water the plants while they snoop.
The police showed up after about 15 minutes. I think they were sent especially from Central Casting for my benefit. I haven’t seen cops like this except in the movies. They were all beefy men with pronounced local accents, with the exception of one young female officer who, it turns out, was from San Francisco. I know this because we spent a lot of time talking. They had clearly sussed out, rightly so, that this was not an Emergency. Before we could get down to business, the phone calls to the superintendent and owner had to be made again. In front of them. Once convinced, we had to wait for the guys with the new-fangled door jimmy to come out.
So, in the meantime, it was all about real estate. We gave them water and invited them in. They all expressed favorable opinions on the apartment. Had it been remodelled? Was it on two floors? Rent or own? Terrace? It seemed a reasonable way to pass the time.
Every once in awhile, the female officer pounded on the front door to let Bathroom Hostage know we were all still here and in just “a few more minutes” they’d be coming to break the door down. When the two officers with the door gadget showed up what seemed like a century later, one got to work with what looked like a nail file on the lock, while the other was riunited with one of the paramedics. Turns out they hadn’t seen each other since 1989, when that crazy guy, you know, what’s his name, who tried to get me to learn how to long board. The nail file thing didn’t work, so they got out a new device that pries the door open without breaking it. Had the fire department been called, they would’ve just broken it down, they added. And then had to post someone on guard all night. A good thing to know.
Bathroom Hostage was liberated in another 10 minutes and the potential asthma crisis was also averted.
The lead officer, a tall elegant man with a crisp white shirt and brush cut, apologized for delaying our dinner as he left.
“You’re good neighbors,” he said in a homegrown Long Island accent. Not only do they preserve the peace, reduce fear and provide a safe environment but they’re polite, too.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 5:13 PM | Permalink

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