Last Sunday I was in Golden Gate Park standing in the middle of the intersection at Chain of Lakes and John F. Kennedy with one of my course monitor crews for the Kaiser Half Marathon. The number of runners had dwindled considerably and I was waiting for the sweep vehicle to pass so I could combine this crew with the one I had a half mile west since I still had inbound runners heading to the finish at that location.
I saw a motorcycle cop driving down the course, the first vehicle I’d seen on it since the race started. I waved him down to ask him if he was the sweep or knew how far back the sweep was. He stopped next to me and I recognized him immediately.
Last summer I was working the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon for UltraSportsLive operating the camera position at the Legion of Honor. This policeman was the same officer working the event who had gone out of his way to get me and a couple of the race management security folks coffees and scones. It had been a very early, very cold morning and I think he felt bad for us. He was so nice. I remember the incongruity of this big guy in full motorcycle officer kit, sitting on a giant police Harley-Davidson, taking our coffee orders like a Starbucks barista. “Do you want whipped cream with that mocha?” I’m not even kidding. I’m sad to say it was a forgotten memory until this moment. I was so happy to see him.
“Remember me? Escape from Alcatraz? You got me a coffee and a scone. I’m Laura.”
I gave him an enthusiastic hug. It was a spontaneous gesture and I didn’t take into consideration the wisdom of hugging an armed on-duty police officer. I’m almost certain you aren’t supposed to be initiating physical contact like that and I’m surprised he didn’t politely push me away.
He looked a bit shocked. I’m sure the last thing he expected to happen when he pulled over was to have this strange woman throwing herself at him. Then recognition dawned on his face.
“Dave,” he shook my hand, “Right! Legion of Honor. I carried the coffees right here.” He tapped the rear storage box on his motorcycle.
“Yes!” I was so pleased he remembered me.
We reminisced for a few minutes about that day in June then discussed the race business I had originally flagged him down for. I thanked him again for the kindness he’d shown me at Escape and we parted ways once more.
I don’t know why I was so thrilled to see him. I don’t generally go around hugging total strangers. I think I was just glad to know he was okay. In his line of work tomorrow is not a guarantee, not that it is for any of us really, but it would seem that particular unknown is more tangibly a part of his life than it is for most of us.
The number of minutes our lives intersected can probably be counted on two hands yet here I am thinking and writing about him. It makes me wonder about the impact we make on other people without even realizing we have done so. You never know who is paying attention.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. I forgot him the first time we met. I didn’t want to forget him for the second. I guess I’ve answered why I even wanted to write about this in the first place.
Be safe, Dave.