Last week, one of my coworkers went missing. On Wednesday evening, he left work around 6 p.m. and never made it home. He didn't show up at work the next day. And now, he's been missing for four days. His car is gone. His credit cards have not been used; neither has his bank account untouched. His cell phone is dead. It's like he just vanished.
Nicholas is a 28-year-old man who has worked at the same company for seven years. He is married with two kids and one more on the way. You never know what's going on in someone's head, but it seems completely out of character for him to choose to leave his family and job behind.
It's just a terrible situation, and stressful even being on the periphery of it. I ache with sympathy for what his wife and the rest of his family must be going through. And it's really taken a toll on everyone at work. Some people were really close to him, others are just thrown off guard by literally losing someone they interact with every day. And we've got missing posters plastered all over the building and the surrounding neighborhood, so there's no escaping it. A few things have really stood out to me as we all walk through this surreal event.
First, it's a harsh reminder that we cannot not communicate. What Nicholas has done, in essence, is lose all communication with the people who are accustomed to seeing and interacting with him every day. By not being accessible by phone, not talking to anyone, not showing up where he is supposed to—basically not doing any of the things that we would consider active communication—he communicated something much bigger than he would have through any of those other smaller messages: He communicated that something was drastically wrong. I'm sure his wife, after not hearing from him even that first evening was desperately worried. At this point, he has "not communicated" for four days, and it has resulted in the police being called and his story being aired on the local news.
Second, when Nicholas first went missing, some people who didn't know him wanted to point out that he is an adult and has likely just gone off on his own. It's almost the cliche first reaction when someone disappears. At the point when he was only gone for 24 hours, we heard a lot of, "What's the big deal? He's an adult who's been missing for one day." And I might have thought something similar myself before I had been inside a situation like this. But when someone this connected to other people—with a wife and family who expect him home every night, with a long-term job that expects him in every day—it's really freaky and jarring to not hear from them for even 12 or 16 hours. By Thursday morning, we were already worried. Maybe we don't realize how much we communicate with the people in our lives and how plugged in we really are.
Third, it's really interesting to me that, in this day and age, someone can completely drop off the radar. I would expect it in a country with a bad infrastructure, but in American in the 21st century, with cell phones and security cameras in almost every business, credit cards that track people, ATM cameras, etc., man! Even if he has gone off on his own by his own choosing, it just seems like quite a feat to completely disappear.
Well, we're all hoping it turns out he just needed to get away for a while and will come back soon. (Although, how you would come back to your life after doing something like this, I don't know.) I'll be sure to post updates if anything new develops. I just wanted to write out some of the thoughts I was having to help process things in my own head.