After grabbing dinner with Jo and Darlene on the last day of the expo, I waited for the 121 to take me back to the beach house where the party was already in full swing. Not being super familiar with the area, I learned that I had been waiting on the wrong side of the street. Thankfully the bus hadn’t arrived yet so I was able to run across. Unfortunately, that also seemed to have put a target on my back.
A few moments later a young girl approaches me, demanding that I give her my name because her friends say that I owe them money. I’ve worked in Manhattan for years so I know better than to fall for that one but no amount of ignoring would make her leave me alone. Although she was carrying a bouquet of flowers and a mango, I was definitely feeling a bit threatened. I don’t normally consider myself the damsel in distress type but it was clear that I needed to get out of there. I didn’t want to instigate her further so I quietly messaged Geoffrey Norman (of The Lazy Literatus fame) through Facebook messenger. I can only imagine what went through his head when he read “Please help me”. He responded moments later with a “How/Where?”. I knew I could count on him!
The bus was late but it finally arrived. I immediately explained to the driver what was happening and asked him to not let her on the bus. What did he do? He let her on the bus. The story had now changed and I owed her $600 in rent money. Rather than helping me, the driver insisted that we both get off the bus, even after I showed him my New Jersey state-issued ID. I was not about to be left alone with this girl but she refused to leave as well. The driver’s solution was to drop us both off at the nearby transit center where there was a security guard.
Initially, the security guard did not buy either of our stories. Only when she told him that my name was Amanda did he begin to doubt what the girl was saying. Long Beach PD was on their way, and the girl walked away when she saw them approach. When we explained the story to the cop, he told me, “Yeah, that’s a gypsy. Don’t talk to gypsies.”. Both the security guard and cop told me that I should try to get on the bus, but I was not confident that I would not be followed.
At last Geoff came riding in like a knight on a white horse…errr, Spark?