Disappearing acts.

Good night, sweetheart, I got to go now
Time won’t permit me to play no more now
But I’ll be back to do another show now
So good night, so long, bye, bye

Chuck Berry – Goodnight, Well It’s Time To Go

Before we left dinner, we exchanged numbers with intentions of meeting up again soon. Most of the people I met began work 4 days later, but 1 person started before me.

E arrived 2 weeks before me and he, too, came here solo. Everyone else has a spouse/partner so it was probably difficult for him. A different agency from ours recruited him, I later found out. Since I sat on one end of the table and he at the other end, we didn’t really talk except to exchange numbers and find out where we’re from. Neither of us knew that the other worked at the same place, nor did either of us know that we were from the same part of the United States until we went our separate ways that night.

I went to work the next day and, sure enough, we ran into each other – E was coming from shadowing a visit, and I was on my way to shadow a visit with one of my new team members. We said hello in passing since we were both in a hurry. It was Friday and even though it was my 1st week, it was still tiring. I was in the latter stages of jet lag, getting used to a new timezone, and beginning a new life. Needless to say, thank goodness it was Friday.

On the way home I sent E a text to say hello and TGIF. He wrote back and asked if I was doing anything over the weekend. I’m not sure about the rest of the weekend, but I definitely didn’t have any plans that day. He said we should hang out, maybe grab something to eat. I was really tired & hot, but I decided to take him up on his offer. I’d already pushed past my social anxiety to attend last night’s dinner; why not push myself a little further and meet up with him?

We decided to meet at a central place, but I was running a bit late. When I got to the tube station to transfer to the next one, the tube I needed to take shut down for some reason. (I learned later that it happens all the damn time. 😐 ) I sent E a text, telling him the situation and that I’d see him in a bit.

I finally got to the place and noticed that he wasn’t there yet. About 30 minutes later, I received a text from him stating that he was on his way to meet me. Then I realized something….. Wait….. Did he leave to meet me at the tube station where I was initially stuck? I sent him a text with that question and sure enough, he’d left the central place to meet me where I got stuck. That was very thoughtful of him, but now I had to go back to where I was before. Sigh.

I sent him a text and said “I’m coming back over there. Don’t move.” I went to the nearest tube station to catch the next one and thank goodness, even with 1 transfer to another tube, everything was running better. I arrived & called him to let him know that I’d arrived. He didn’t answer so I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

For at least 1/2 hour.

Whilst waiting, I sent text messages describing my clothing (black shirt, black slacks, black flip-flops), if he’d forgotten what I looked like. Since this particular tube station is quite large, I also walked around to see if I’d find him, which was unfruitful. I knew something was wrong, so I tried calling E again, but alas….. My phone was out of credit for phone calls and there was nothing open at that time of night to allow for adding credit. I had some loose coins, so I called from a pay phone (the pay phones in London suck, by the way), and wouldn’t you know it….. E didn’t have any credit either because his phone went straight to voice-mail, and the phone operator stated that E wouldn’t receive any notifications until he added credit to his phone.

I used the last bit of credit I had to send E a text message explaining what happened, and I headed back to N’s house. I was a little disappointed but at least I tried. Besides, being tired gave me an excuse to head home.

The next day (Saturday) I had a couple of appointments to view flats. Even though I’d just gotten there and N wasn’t rushing me out of the house, I’ve always hated being a burden to others so I began flat hunting early. During the 2nd appointment, I received a text from E apologizing for last night. He confirmed that he ran out of credit and, since the tube station is so big, couldn’t find me. I called him and we apologized to each other. He then said, “You won’t believe where I am now.” I said, “Where?” He said, “At the airport. I have an emergency back home.” He then told me about having to return home because of a family emergency, as well as the long journey to the airport. One of his co-workers gave him a ride to the airport, which was nice, but she didn’t know where she was going and got lost. This led to him missing his original flight, which led to him spending more money on a brand new plane ticket. At the end of the conversation, he said he’d be back on Tuesday. I told him I’d send him a text message with my e-mail address so that he could contact me and, in turn, I’d tell everyone else. I wished him good luck and said “see you back at the office on Tuesday”.

Tuesday came and went.

By this time, everyone who was at the dinner started working, and I told them the situation. We figured that it was something serious since he hadn’t returned by Tuesday. A week and a half went by; we decided that one of us should find his supervisor to see if he was alright. I found the supervisor, who stated that he wasn’t returning until August 2nd. We were right – we knew it was something serious. Toward the end of the month, I had lunch with my recruiter and told him the situation. Having worked in the business for years, he said

“I’m a cynical bastard. That young man isn’t coming back.” (I love how brutally honest many Britons are.)

I said, “You really think so?” He said, “Listen, I’ve worked in this business long enough to know. When they pull the disappearing act, they’re not coming back, especially if there’s no explanation.”

August 2nd came & went and sure enough, he didn’t return. By this time, we’d already established our work schedules and were too busy to remember. But he never returned.

Epilogue:
After a little investigative work (also known as being nosey), my co-worker’s wife figured out that E likely returned to the United States for his son. Yes….. He has a son that no one knew about. We still don’t know all the facts, but based on the investigative work & finding out that he left a son (and possibly the child’s mother?) there, that was our conclusion. He’s connected with a few of us on Facebook, but mum’s still the word.
______________________________________

Has this ever happened with you? Or better yet, have you done this yourself? Tell us here.

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