October 20, 2021

Good Cop, Bad Robber

My wallet got stolen last night. It's actually this crazy karmic story of love and betrayal, well, not really love, but maybe betrayal, and I'm still sitting here today thanking the powers that be that my computer wasn't stolen. I had just completed three hours of research and was in the middle of writing a couple of stories I wouldn't be able to get back. Yeah, I know back it up or email everything to yourself, but when you walk from a coffeeshop to your friends house, you don't expect to be robbed.

My wallet was in her apartment. We slipped outside for some fresh air. We thought we locked the door. Guess not. He got in. Had been buzzed in, ironically we think by my very same friend. So many things we should have done differently, but whatever. Her computer - which he did take - is already being replaced. My wallet, well, he walked away with fifty dollars and some credit cards, but in the end, the only thing he's getting is the cash, oh, and a $25 gift certificate to TJ Maxx. Hope he buys his mom a nice gift with that. My friend lost a bit more.

The strangest part was going down to the police station to try to ID him. See, I have keys to my friends apartment, so I let myself in the building as he tried to get entry through the buzzer system. He didn't even ask me to let him in. I wouldn't have anyway. When we got upstairs, the buzzer rang. My friend thought it was another friend who was meeting us for dinner. Regardless, she should have asked. Regardless, we should have called the super and let him know that we just buzzed a stranger in. We should have double checked that we locked her problem-filled door. For some reason, we didn't.

When we walked back upstairs, things felt weird, but I couldn't put my finger on what was out of place. The door was slightly ajar, and we suspected someone was there, but we didn't realize anything was missing. We didn't realize anything was missing for an hour.

Anyway, we know it was this guy, because he happened to leave this manila envelope on her bed. Strangely enough, it was open, and the contents were spread across her comforter. Why she thought the papers were mine, and that I was applying for a reduced rate metrocard (given to senior citizen's or physically disabled people) is beyond me. Why, when she saw the papers earlier, she didn't think of it as a red flag, I don't know. But now, it was. And now I knew. I had seen the man who carried that envelope. He was the man trying to get in the building when I let myself in.

So, we rode in two cop cars. The first one was a detective's and it had no outward signs of belonging to the police. We got to the precinct. It looked and felt like a school. We got upstairs. We saw a holding cell. I looked at over 700 photos on the computer. All of black men in the neighborhood who had been accused of crimes. There were another 2,500 photos I could have looked at, but I was getting sick. These men, some of them had been beaten before their pictures were taken. One guy was wearing a blonde wig and bright blue eyeshadow. Others just looked out of it. I couldn't ID him. I've read about eyewitness accounts. They're not always reliable. Now, hours later, I wasn't feeling very reliable.

I couldn't properly ID the one guy they were looking for. We drove back in a marked car. I sat in the back. It was totally cramped. No leg room. When I asked what happens if a person whose taller than me gets stuck back here, the cop, who happened to be a pretty nice man, said "tough luck." Seriously it was not a pleasant ride. No locks. No window control. No fun. I couldn't even see into the front seat all that well. But I did learn a new, ugly term. "Collared" - that's how they refer to arrests. "Who was the last guy to collar that guy?" One cop might ask another.

Anyway, I'm safe. Everyone's safe. I still have my most precious material possession, and I got to ride in a cop car. When we got out (in front of a local Chinese restaurant so we could grab some dinner) there were a group of young locals looking at us. I mentioned how much the handcuffs hurt, and how happy I was that they were off, and they were totally freaked out by me.

But not as freaked as I was that day. And now I'm going to be more alert, more aware and more in the present. All good things I suppose.

Posted by jamye at October 20, 2021 05:29 PM