Episode 32: That Time I Rode Home In An American Police Car

365 Dates of Travel Podcast

Transcript for Episode 32: That Time I Rode Home In An American Police Car

Hello and welcome to this week’s podcast. We have come to the end of the second book. We have come to the end of all the 365 dates of travel. 

The November chapter in the second book is only a small chapter with six dates. The first book, The first six months, started on the 7th of November. So the majority of November is in the first book, which we’ve already talked about. So now, with just six little dates, it’s going to be a single week podcast. I will read one of the dates from the book and I’ll talk about the stories in this chapter. But there won’t be a second podcast next week. 

The chapter starts with a cheeky Halloween story. As in, I’ve combined the 31st of October and the 1st of November into one date. But the adventure of the date happened in the early hours of the 1st of November, and you need the lead up to it, which happened on Halloween. I’m going to jump in and do the reading straight away. 


1st November (1998) New York, NY & Princeton, New Jersey, USA

I celebrated my first Halloween in America, starting with trick or treating with the family I worked for in the early evening. It wasn’t as exciting as television shows made it look.

Afterwards, I headed into Manhattan from Princeton Junction Train Station to meet friends. We tried to watch the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, but I proved too short. One friend, Martin, put me on his shoulders for ten minutes. I took photos, but none came out being night-time.

We had plans to meet others at a bar nearby, which I loved. I sat at the bar enjoying a hot apple cider. Live jazz music played and candles lit the room.

Our friends didn’t arrive, so we left for Times Square. Martin took us to an Irish pub, but unimpressive after the previous place. Being after 10:30 pm without eating dinner, I was starving. I needed somewhere to sit and eat, neither of which were options at the pub.

We got two beers into Caroline and then found a restaurant where I had some fries and a piece of cheesecake.

We called the night a bust and headed to Penn Station to catch our various trains home. We shared our subway carriage with a sleeping devil. An older lady wore devil horns on her head as she slept away.

I caught the last departure to Princeton at 1:40 am arriving at 2:50 am. Others alighted in need of a ride home. We’d assumed we’d get taxis, but they’d finished for the night.

In the end, the Police felt sorry for us and drove us home. I was with 8 Princeton Uni students, so at least I wasn’t there all by myself. So I rode home in the back of a Police car–that was cool. It’s very small–no leg room and of course you can’t open the doors or windows. So anyway, I got home at 4 am.

The highlight of my night was a ride in an American police car; an unexpected end to the night. I’d always wondered why they help arrested people into the car. Now I can tell you. There is no leg room. Your feet are under the front seat. You need to move your body in specific ways to get your feet in and under. It would be difficult with your hands in handcuffs. The easiest way is to sit sidewards, watching your head as the officers say. You’d balance yourself if you had free hands and place one leg in at a time. It makes sense once you do it. At least I didn’t do it in handcuffs. I’m not sure what would have happened without the police; a long, cold walk.

A local Princeton friend woke me with a phone call at 9:45 am and picked me up soon after to attend church. She went every week, and I’d asked to join her on this date as hoped for familiar readings.

It was seven years since my Year 12 final school mass. I did a reading so had an affinity with this particular mass, even though it had been years since I’d attended mass regularly. I wanted a trip down memory lane. But wished I’d had more sleep. We arrived late, missing my 1991 reading, but it was the correct mass and memories flooded back.

So that was my mini Halloween and 1st of November adventure in New York and New Jersey, on the seven-year anniversary of finishing high school.


American police car

I have to tell you; it was really hard to get into that police car. I understand that it’s to keep so called criminals out of trouble in the backseat. But yeah, it was a really interesting situation. And now every time I watch it on TV and see them trying to push them by the head, like, watch your head and hop in and just have a look at how they get in. I’m not sure if it’s exactly true on TV, but it definitely is not just as simple as hopping in a car like it normally was. Obviously, I didn’t have my hands in handcuffs, so I had my hands to help me. And there were, I think, three or four of us probably trying to squeeze into the back, as there were about nine of us that needed rides home. 

But they made us stand around for probably nearly an hour before they took pity on us and drove us home. So we’re all just wandering around the tracks trying to work out how to get home. 

I find it really weird. Why didn’t the taxi, or at least one taxi driver, wait for the last train on New Year’s Eve? Surely it’s a night to make good money. I guess it’s a good night to hide away as well. But I’m just glad I wasn’t the only one stuck there. And I’m very grateful that the police were also there and they very kindly drove us all home. 

I’m pleased to say the family I worked for didn’t see me coming home in a police car. I did tell them the story the next day and obviously the only reason they drove me home was because I had no other way of getting home. 

Lottie and Far North Queensland

Some of the other dates in this chapter are me with Lottie, the Arkana. We’re still in Far North Queensland, or we’re about to leave Far North Queensland after the nanny job that I went up there for ended abruptly. There are so many stories from this short-lived job, but they belong in the nanny book and not on this podcast. 

I left the job and Lottie and I made it all the way up to Cape Tribulation, which is kind of where the road ends in Far North Queensland, in Australia. I’m not sure if the road has been extended. There is a dirt road, but the bitumen road ended at Cape Tribulation. Lottie and I made it up to there, and we got to see its magnificent scenery. 

Return to Australia after 7 years

But the last date of this chapter creates symmetry with the first date of the first book. And I still find it fascinating how coincidence brought me back to Australia on the last day of the 7th year since I flew to Los Angeles. Exactly seven years to the day. Unplanned, totally unplanned, like it was just meant to be. I didn’t make the ten years I’d talked about when departing from Albury train station, but seven years was pretty good. 

The main reason I came back was to see if I could or if I wanted to live in Australia. The plan was to try it out for a year, as I had never lived in Australia as an adult. So I didn’t know if I should stay, or if I wanted to stay, or if I could stay. Could I make a life for myself in Australia? 

I’d planned on working in Canada, but I wanted to test Australia first. That way, if I knew I could live in Australia, I could come back after I’d worked in Canada, or if I knew I didn’t want to live in Australia, I could just stay in Canada after a two-year nanny visa I could apply for. I could decide to stay and apply for residency after that if I knew I didn’t want to come back to Australia. 

The first couple of weeks, a couple of months even in Australia, were with people I’d met travelling. I didn’t have an old life to come back to. And my diary talks mostly about how little money I had. I got down to $18 at one point. I wanted to check my emails, but I had to go to a cybercafe, as we called them back then, to do so. But it cost $6 an hour. I wanted to spend 2 hours catching up on everything, but that would only have left me $6. 

First nanny job in Australia

Staying with friends at least gave me free accommodation. But you still had to pay for food and get around and stuff like that. I got a temp job that helped me a bit. It was for a few hours over a couple of weeks, helping out a mum who was unable to drive after surgery on her feet. She had a nine-year-old who needed picking up from school and just running errands. 

They looked after me very well, that family. They gave me dinner every night. Sometimes they let me take the car home because they didn’t need it in between when I was leaving and when I was coming back. So it was a very nice little job to start with and gave me some much needed cash. 

American visa deposit

I was supposed to have money coming to me. I can’t remember exactly how much it was. I want to say I paid £500, which sounds like a lot of money. Could I have paid £500 for an American visa? There was a deposit system where you paid a certain amount of money and once you had done what you were supposed to, which was spend a year working for a family. You had a month at the end; you had twelve months to work for the family and you had a month’s grace period where you could travel around America. But once you left the country, so within the 13 months of your arrival, you would get that deposit back. So £500 sounds like way too much money. But I guess it has to have been a lot of money so that you would do what you were supposed to so that you would get that money back. 

Because all of my arrangements for America were done when I was living in London, everything went through the English office. And I had so much trouble time and time again trying to remind them that I wasn’t actually English, I was Australian. So my deposit was back in London. I did try at one point to get some money out of my English bank account after I’d been home for a couple of days. I tried low; I tried $50, and it was declined. So there was less than $50 in my English bank account. Obviously I hadn’t used it while I’d been in America and I would have taken out as much as I humanly possible to take with me for America. Knowing there was not even $50 in there meant my deposit had yet to be paid into my account and I was waiting by the minute for that deposit. 

In the end, I had to call them, and they eventually sent me a check. So then I had to wait for the check to arrive from England and then I had to wait for the check to clear in my refreshed Australian bank account. 

But I did survive financially and emotionally, even after I finally called my parents. So eventually I did call my parents. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but eventually I did. And eventually my mother let me come and stay but she refused to let me use the car, but that’s another whole story. 

Samboy Chips

Back to the book. The diary entry, that is on the 6th of November, the last date in the book, I talk all about Samboy chips. It was my favourite brand of chips, the best salt and vinegar chips you could ever possibly imagine. It’s the first time I’ve been in Australia for like seven years. Not quite true, but I’d been away for seven years and I was focusing on chips. And so after reading me talk or reading myself, writing about talking about chips the whole time when I was writing the book, I actually had to go and get myself some chips because I couldn’t not eat chips after reading and writing about it for so long. And I keep going on and on about the chips. 

Later in my diary, I was devastated that Samboy chips had disappeared. Eventually I did find some, but they were very difficult to find and of course now they’re virtually impossible to find. But I did track some down and now I’m used to Smiths chips, so that’s okay. But at the time, I was so focused on Samboy chips. 

What’s next

That brings me to, well, what’s next? I do plan on having a couple of weeks off. I am recording this episode a few weeks early, so by the time you’re listening to this episode, I will be somewhere in Europe. I’m going to be away for a full month and so keeping up the podcast on a weekly basis was going to be just a little bit trickier than normal. 

I will try and do maybe a guest podcast if I can manage to get some recording done while I’m away and put it all together. But don’t rely on that. Most likely rely on a couple of weeks of no new podcasts uploaded and anything that I do manage to potentially upload will be just little bonus episodes of some description and be short, I’m sure. So don’t hold me to that promise. I’m just saying it is a maybe that something might appear if you’ve subscribed and an automatic download of a bonus episode appears. 

Season Two

Also, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks. I’m still working on what is going to happen next. The podcast will continue. I will call it Season Two when I come back, unless the bonus episodes, they’ll just be called bonus episodes. 

I’ve had lots of different ideas and plans for what would happen after I finished with the November chapter, and the current plan is basically to go right back to the beginning. So start on my first ever overseas trip, which was way back in the 1983/4 summer in Australia, and winter in the northern hemisphere, and go through every trip that I’ve been on. I’ll count the countries each time I go to a new country and do things in chronological order. 

A lot of feedback I’ve received is that people would have preferred everything in chronological order. So I will give people that with the second season of the podcast. If I’m counting countries along the way, I need to start with that early 1980s trip because that’s where I do clock off a few countries. 

I’ll talk about the memories that I have left that I haven’t mentioned in the book as yet, and there are quite a few little snippets of things along the way. So I will do my best to put as much information in as I can. I will try and keep the episodes on the shorter side. I’d like to aim for 20, or no more than 30 minutes per episode, so some trips over time will end up taking a couple or a few weeks. But everything is still a little bit up in the air, so don’t hold me to anything that I say. But currently that is the plan. 

Wrap up

So thank you very much for listening over the last thirty odd episodes. I do appreciate you if you’ve been here right from the beginning, especially. It’s been fun chatting with you and I hope I’ve made you laugh and I hope you’ve enjoyed the extra background stories to the stories in the book. 

If you haven’t read the book, then please, it’d make me very happy if you did so and hopefully this podcast has enticed you to read the book. So, the two books, the main title is 365 Dates of Travel. There’s The first six months and The SECOND six months to make up 365 individual stories ranging from 1983, all the way up to current times. 

And please, any comments, anything is always welcome. You can contact me via email at fran@franheapwriter.com and there’s a contact page on the website which is franheapwriter.com. And funnily enough, my Instagram and Facebook author pages are also franheapwriter. So you can’t miss me. Put franheapwriter in and you’ll find something. There is always a way to contact me. 

You can sign up for my newsletter on the website. There are photos from all the travels on the website. All the podcast episodes are there if you haven’t already got them somewhere on your favourite platform, there are transcripts to the podcasts, there’s information about the books and where to buy them and a little bit more about me and some funny photos from varying ages and stages. So there’s a lot of stuff there. And come check me out on social media as well. You can always contact me on the socials. 

For now, I will leave it there. Again, thank you very much for listening and I will wish for you an interesting day.

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