Apologies for not blogging about this sooner. I've been alternating heat and cold on my back for the past few days. On Thursday, June 10th, we held a 10-13 party for Natalie. 10-13 refers to the NYPD radio code for Officer Needs Assistance. It's the most serious thing you can say over the radio, and in the macho culture of the Job usually never gets uttered. Cops prefer to call a 10-85, or "an 85" which is supposed to be used for non-emergency requests. And even then, most cops will call an "85 non-emergency) which means you're fighting but don't want to make a big deal out of it. It's especially impressive when you're putting that out over the air and all you hear is screaming in the background. A cop named Botta once told me when calling for help to "try and keep the bitch out of my voice" when I key the radio. Sage words. Thanks Tony.
However, 10-13 is also used to refer to parties and rackets where you raise money for a cop or a cop's family who are usually dealing with catastrophic medical bills. This is the case for my friend George, who is taking care of his three sons without his wife. So, I grabbed the Amtrak up to NYC in the morning, my partner Will picked me up. He always picks me up, no matter where I come in. I'm not going to talk to much about it, because I'll jinx it. But God bless that man.
We drove to the 28 up in Harlem. And let me tell you, a lot has changed since I left there 8 years ago. And when I say a lot, I mean white people. Everywhere. There's a new SPG hotel across from the precinct, which took the place of the slowest supermarket to ever make a sandwich and the only ghetto chinese place we would eat at. Oh, and there's a gym for kids in a new building next to the precinct, literally a place for toddlers to work out. Harlem is not Harlem any more, Toto. I missed the old Harlem.
We then went up to Mount St. Michael's Academy which is a prestigious Catholic school in the Bronx. Really nice. Prior to that day, my only knowledge of that place was from my friend in college who went there, Pedro. Back in the infancy of the internet, I went to the school's homepage and they allowed alumni to write in with updates. So I wrote in as Pedro that I was married and studying chemical engineering and had a kid and life was good. (None of this was true) His mother got the alumni magazine and had a heart attack and called him screaming. Good times.
Anyway, there was a DJ (former 28 guy). 60 cases of beer. 50 cases of soda and water. Enough trays of mac and cheese and chicken parm and baked ziti, that you could walk to Queens without touching water. Banners and tables and chairs. And it was all donated. The local precinct sent guys to watch the cars parked out front. It was a day that made me proud to be a cop.
Saw tons of people from the 28 and it was like a great family reunion. The midnight lieutenant that no one likes was there, which earned him I'm sure a very begrudging respect. My old XO (Executive Officer) was there. He now works for a bank recovering ATM cards that people leave in the machine. (Just kidding Kev.) He's a bigwig, and it's awesome to call him Kev and he can't do anything about it.
George walked in and gave me a huge hug with tears in his eyes and thanked me profusely for everything. Puh-leeze. Seeing him smile while talking to guy's was the only thing I really wanted. Besides, does he know how easy this is? I got on a train to support a friend. I stayed with Will and managed not to offend his wife by leaving my boxers in the kitchen like last time. This is easy. If being there brings him a shred of comfort, I'll never leave.
We're family George. For better or worse. I love you like a brother and Nat like a sister. You need anything. You want to take the kids to DC for a long weekend to get them out of the city, you call me, I hook it up. I'll even pay for all the museums. You can have my 1-bedroom and I'll crash with friends. What's mine is yours. Currently, that's a lot of Ikea furniture and beer, but I think you'll be fine.