Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Finest

I spent some time yesterday evening at the local police precinct. (I love that as an opening line.) I had to file a police report because someone used my corporate credit card number and racked up (wracked up? neither looks right) almost $3000 in charges. I've been talking to the credit card company and the merchant involved, and finally was told I have to file my own report in order to get it cleared off my card.

The local precinct is not at all like in the movies or TV - not like the bustling Hollywood sets, but also not like the "gritty realism" we're given instead. Realism here is more dim and institutional: 70's era decor with bad lighting, cheap furniture, sad neutral-colored walls. I sat in the entryway for almost 45 minutes, waiting, separated by a cluster of officers at a square table by a flimsy barricade, and by a podium which had a computer printed sign telling visitors to wait there for an officer, taped over the NYPD insignia. (I stared at it for a long time. Is that an American Indian on the right? Or just some guy with plumed headgear and a long knife?) The place was decorated for the holidays: garlands and lights, mostly.

The men behind me were talking, surrounded by vending machines and not much else. Is this the lounge area? The waiting area? Others came and went, mostly in uniform, one in a dark suit. Talk about who was assigned to do what next, who could drive another officer to another precinct, how many minutes Spenelli (general facsimile of Italian-American surname used) was late coming downstairs.

I was told one of the fraud/identity theft officers would come down to help me. None did. Finally the guy at the desk who'd told me this waved me over to the side and had me fill out a form. He asked me some questions and had me sign my statement. And then I went home, feeling a bit disappointed. I don't know why, but I felt comforted sitting there, observing. I had a reason to be there, and yet was able to be part of a world that I didn't belong to, even if only on a far-removed perimeter. Sitting there for that long I began to wonder, too, what Spenelli was up to (how long does it take to change out of one's uniform?) and when the guy in the suit would stop going in and out to his car and leave for whatever he needed to do in Staten Island.


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