I swipe my key card outside of the government building, walk down the concrete steps that lead to our sheriff’s office and walk into the patrol room where reports are churned out, phone calls made , information disseminated and coffee sipped. A large, wooden box is mounted on the wall with smaller boxes inside of it that contain mail for each deputy. Occasionally I find letters from citizens that I’ve had contact with during my shifts. As I peered into my mailbox last week I saw an envelope with my name on it, written by a girl we will call Peggy.
Peggy is 14 years old and succumbed to the peer pressure of a friend we will call Jenny. Jenny, also 14, was disgruntled with her parents and decided to fly the roost one evening. They gave zero forethought as to where that flight trajectory would lead them, but Jenny just knew she had to spread those wings because her parents yoke was too heavy upon her neck. My partner and I received the call of two girls that had been missing for over two hours, later that night.
Not knowing this history I new the likelihood of the situation was that these girls had ran away. However, not having a note indicating that, we began searching for them and considering different options to assist us in the search. As darkness began to creep over the horizon the parents level of concern escalated. Daughters could not be reached on their cell phones as phone calls were made to them. Then, my partner came across the two girls walking down a back road, backpacks strapped over their shoulders, ready to take on whatever the world was about to throw their way.
The letter was an apology:
My name is Peggy. I’m 14 and I am one of the girls who tried to run away. I just want to apologize for all the trouble I caused. I’m sorry that we took up your time and that you had to go through a lot of trouble to find us. I’m sorry that you had to go get dogs and almost had to send a helicopter out looking for us too. I also want to thank you for finding us before someone else did. Thank for all that you’ve done.
I smiled. The letter will be added to my collection.