The phone call came in at 3:46PM. Having worked the night-shift, I was half-asleep when the phone rang. My usual routine is to sleep from 5AM to 10AM, wake up so I can listen to the news on the radio so as to maintain some semblance of a grip on the outside world, then take a short nap in the afternoon before getting ready for work.
One of the managers on the job was on the line... one of her underlings hadn't shown up for work in two days. This young woman is very conscientious, and has been on the payroll for almost five years. She's not the type to blow off work. The manager told me that she and our chief operating officer had both called the young woman several times, with no answer, and a follow-up phone call to her emergency contact, her mother, had also been unsuccessful. Needless to say, the manager, who is a very caring, empathetic woman, was distraught. She asked me if I would accompany her to our missing comrade's apartment building to check up on the situation.
It's no secret on the job that I used to investigate questionable insurance claims back in the '90s and worked as a Census enumerator in 2010, and had a knack for "canvassing" a neighborhood for information about the whereabouts of an individual. I assured the manager that we'd follow a procedure which almost always worked for me- after trying the apartment, we'd contact the building superintendent and, if that were unsuccessful, we'd ask her neighbors if they'd seen her. If we'd exhausted those options, we'd look for her car in the vicinity and then inform the police that our co-worker was missing.
Before hanging up, I asked the manager if they had explored all of the avenues of inquiry that could be pursued in the office. The I.T. guys had checked her e-mail account to see if she had requested days off, nothing out of the ordinary there. I opined that, before heading out into the field, it's important to follow all of the leads one can, gain all of the information that could be gleaned. I asked her to double check the full range of procedures that they'd gone over with the head office, and told her I'd shower up and head out.
While I was performing my ablutions, the manager checked the missing employee's Facebook page, and checked out the various contacts. Sure enough, she discovered that our friend and co-worker, with her mother, had been involved in a serious car accident, and that the two of them were in critical condition in a hospital in New York City. I had two text messages waiting for me as soon as I got out of the shower, telling me that there was no need for shoe-leather work.
Needless to say, today has been a bad, bad day on the job... it was bad five hours before it began.