I have a November memory that has stuck with me for many years.
My friend’s daughter was chosen in her community to be a Youth Justice Worker and, with about a dozen other young folks from communities all over the province, she was scheduled for a one-week training session on a military base about six hours from her home.
This was such an honour and the program was conducted under the guidance of the federal police force. It was a big deal!
She was about 11 years old and young to be away from home but her mom, my friend, agreed that she would/should be safe in the hands of such a large policing organization and that it would surely be the experience of a lifetime for her. Oh, yes, it was the experience of a lifetime, for sure.
On evening two, my friend called her daughter to see how things were going. The person answering the phone tried but couldn’t find her and told my friend she would give her daughter the message to call back.
My friend called again after an hour and asked again to speak to her daughter.
The troop leader came on the phone and reported that her daughter was, in fact, gone and they could not locate her.
They had apparently searched her room and the barracks but she was nowhere to be found. Being a youth, they asked about her daughter’s drug use and whether she might run away.
My friend was fit to be tied — her daughter was missing from an Armed Forces base six hours away and, this being unusual behaviour for her daughter, she felt completely helpless.
Local and regional reinforcements were brought into the search, including helicopters.
My friend was called several times over the next hour and offered support by every top brass member of the local, regional and provincial police forces.
This was unprecedented as well as frightening but also truly embarrassing for the training organization, especially in view of the security in their jobs.
What could they mean saying she had just disappeared?
How could that possibly happen in such a facility with such implied security standards? My friend was on the phone constantly and reassured repeatedly that her daughter would be located. It was a very tense time.
On hour four, a call came to say she had been found. The caller was oddly hesitant and stumbled over his words as he gave her the news that her daughter was OK and, then, tried to explain, without sounding completely foolish, what had happened to activate the huge search of the evening.
It was simple, actually — her daughter, tired after her day in training, had gone off into one of the bedrooms (not her own because her roommates were gabbing and keeping her awake) and fallen asleep.
She had slept through all of the searching, calling out, the whirling helicopter lights of the ground search around the barracks, the dogs barking outside and, of course, all the frantic phone calls. She had slept through it all and four hours later walked sleepily out of the room and into complete chaos!
How do you spell “relief?”
Oh, and maybe spell “oops” while you’re at it.
Colleen Crossley is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.