Day 9: Running and Runaways
Tuesday 20th September
Last night Lloyd’s wallet was (probably) stolen and we knew after a few phone calls that we had to go to a police station this morning to report it missing. As we were already heading to the coach station in the city centre we made our way there, printed our tickets and walked to the police station 1 block away still carrying our large, and not any more comfortable, rucksacks. At this point I should probably tell you that our coach was due to leave at 11:00 and we arrived to the police station at 10:20 thinking we had plenty of time to fill in a form and get back for our coach departure. (This will be important later on…)
We spent about 10 minutes explaining what had happened only to be told that we couldn’t report it to this police station. We had to go to the station in the area the loss/theft happened. This was 2 miles from the coach station. We set off at a pace I couldn’t keep up with. I had to stop Lloyd and tell him to go on, I would wait in the coach station. At this point I joined a queue to try and change the tickets (to no avail - the $20 per person charge was more than the tickets cost to begin with!) and Lloyd rang me to say he was also in a queue but that he shouldn’t be long filling out the form and he would ring me when he was done. In the meantime I finished speaking to the coach customer service advisor and wandered back into the terminal feeling very anxious that we weren’t going to make the coach. The time was 10:45.
I kept checking my phone and just as Lloyd calls me, a bald man with a police badge around his neck, dressed in plain clothes, approached me. Lloyd was running through the streets of New York, with a 12kg backpack, trying to speak to me on the phone. I was flustered by this policeman who was also trying to tell me where Lloyd needed to go, I managed to tell him the gate we were departing from but that he would need to call me back because this man needed to speak to me.
“You’re not in any trouble” usually means you are in some sort of trouble… “I’m sorry Miss but I need to check your I.D, someone has reported you as you a potentially vulnerable young person. You’re by yourself, with a large bag and we get a lot of runaways coming through on the busses here. This doesn’t result in a criminal record, I’m here to make sure everything is okay so please don’t get upset, I just need to check your age and then we can see how else I can help you.”
I imagine I was staring at him like a fish; wide eyed with a slightly open mouthed, shocked expression. I didn’t know what to say so I just did as he asked. Handing over my I.D. I tried to explain the situation but it just made me teary; I’d never been stopped by a policeman before! Still trying to check my phone and keep an eye out for Lloyd, the police officer must have believed my rambling version of events as he went and spoke to a uniform policeman who came over and took a description of Lloyd in case they saw him frantically running through the terminals.
It was probably 10:55 at that point, Lloyd had just rung to say he was in the building on the way to the departure gate, I briefly thanked the officer and dashed off to try and find him. When I had made it halfway down the stairs I looked up and there was Lloyd, coming up the escalator. I almost didn’t see him I was in such a hurry! He was a sweaty, beetroot coloured, crazy eyed version of Lloyd, but I was happy to see him nonetheless. “The coach has gone” he tells me, sounding very defeated. It was 10:59.
I told him to come with me; “the man would help us”. (Later Lloyd told me how sceptical he was of ‘this man’ as I hadn’t told him then, nor during any of the preceding phone calls, that it was in fact a police officer helping me). We approached him, he showed Lloyd his badge and checked Lloyds I.D. Taking one long look at us he gestured for us to follow him; “We’re going to get this sorted for you, just do not contradict me, understand?” We nodded in unison, happy that he was taking control. That wonderful police officer must have been my fairy godmother that morning, he waved his magic wand and fixed everything for us. The tickets could now be used for a later coach with no extra charge and thankfully this also meant Lloyd could change out of his sweaty t-shirt! After shaking his hand we went to board our coach, I turned around at the top of the stairs and he had already disappeared into the crowd.Side note: We know things could have turned out quite differently at any point that morning and we have learnt from our mistakes that day. We are very thankful that such a genuine NYPD officer took the time to help us, we are very lucky. (Karma certainly did its job!)