On the eve of Tuesday’s blizzard, Tracey Rannals Bryan and her 11-year-old son Jack got stranded at Trader Joe’s in Brookline.
They had taken an Uber to the store Monday night and bought some refreshments (a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for her; animal crackers for Jack) but when Rannals Bryan tried to request a ride home, her Uber app was not working.
Rannals Bryan, an attorney from New Orleans, asked a police officer who was directing traffic where they could hail a taxi. The officer asked where they were headed. Bryan told him they were staying at the Yawkey Family Inn, which houses patients at Boston Children’s Hospital. Jack was scheduled to have heart surgery the next day.
“I expected him to tell me to go over there to get a cab,” she said.
But what happened next surprised her, and made Jack’s day.
Instead of sending them to a cab stand, Rannals Bryan said the officer radioed for a police cruiser to pick them up.
“While we were waiting,” she said, “I started to tear up because it was so nice of him to do this for us.”
Minutes later, the police car arrived and whisked mother and son back to the inn, with the siren on and blue lights flashing.
Jack was all smiles.
“The next day we went off to surgery,” she said.
When they got out of the hospital, Rannals Bryan was surprised to find a care package waiting for her son at the inn. It was full of police swag: a Brookline Police Department shirt, hat, patch, water bottle, toys. An officer had also called and left a message to see how Jack was doing.
They also received an invitation: would Jack like to have a tour of the police station?
She said Jack was not able to walk yet, and was using a wheelchair to get around.
No problem, police said: “We’ll bring two cars.”
The officer who met them in Coolidge Corner that Monday evening — Detective David Wagner — and the one who gave them the ride — Officer Kevin Fallon — showed up at the inn in their police cruisers.
Jack’s wheelchair would not fit into the cruiser, so Wagner took it apart and put it in the trunk. After they arrived at the police station, they put Jack’s wheelchair back together again and went inside, where Jack was treated to a VIP tour of the Brookline Police Department’s headquarters. He got to see the dispatch room, booking area, holding cells, and evidence room.
The ride back to the inn was even more special, because they were escorted by an additional police cruiser. They felt like they were in a parade.
And when police learned that Jack had been dying to play in the snow for days, but had not been able to — he was not well enough to get out of his wheelchair — the officers gave him a hand, and made him some snowballs to throw outside of the inn.
Lieutenant Philip Harrington, the spokesman for the Brookline Police Department, said Fallon and Wagner were pleased to have met Jack and happy that he was up for touring the station.
“As an organization we wish Jack and his family the best as he continues with his health battles,” Harrington said. “Officer Wagner was asked to comment, and modestly stated ‘it’s what police officers should be doing, and many are doing just that. People don’t normally get to see this side of police work.’ ”
Rannals Bryan said Jack’s surgery was a success and he is recovering well, and soon they will be back home in New Orleans. She still cannot get over how the Brookline police “went above and beyond” to make Jack smile during such a difficult time.
“They made my very sick kid really happy,” she said. “It made the whole trip for him.”