Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Backlog: Missing and presumed lost (Mexico City)

I had left A., typing away, at an Internet cafe, telling her that I was going back to the Hotel I. to use the bathroom. We had already agreed that we would meet at 5pm for a dance lesson. I would see her back at the hotel , perhaps, if I stopped off to change shoes before heading to the park.

After using the convenient facilities in the hotel lobby, I took a walk and ended up spending several hours in another of the zillion Internet cafes nearby. (No coffee, by the way, in most of these places.) When I returned to the hotel and requested the room key, the clerk womaning the front desk informed me that my friend was upstairs and had been checking all day to see if I'd returned.

"Uh oh," I thought. Something must be wrong. A's mom had fallen and broken a hip and she'd been expecting news. Or perhaps something else -- obviously grave -- had happened. I frantically pushed the elevator button and willed the conveyance to deliver me quickly to our room on the 2nd floor (3rd floor in US translation).

I ran to and knocked on the door and identified myself. A. let me in. "Where have you been?" she cried (without tears, but with a mixture of semi-raised voice, irritation, and relief).

Apparently, she had not heard my "See you later," and had thought that I was going to come right back to the place where she was sending and receiving emails. When I didn't return, she thought I'd gotten sick. She went to check on me, but I wasn't in the room and the clerks said that they'd not seen me. Was I in the hospital? Kidnapped? Murdered?

A. showed me the note that she had composed as she prepared to report my disappearance to the authorities. It is important to realize that A. started learning Spanish only last year and has made great strides. Despite them, she would have caused the police some confusion and hilarity when they read that "the Internet cafe left, but she didn't arrive at the hotel, never."

In a city of over 20 million people, it's not unusual to have things go awry or have people disappear. I didn't even know I was missing, but I guess that's the nature of lost objects and lost beings.

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