Sunday, September 24, 2006

When the help was not wanted

By Kirsten Nour Namskau

I worked as massage-therapist at Gold’s Gym, when I one day got a phone-call from Diata. She told me that she had just arrived Cairo one week ago, coming from Canada and was stresses out of her body, so she needed a massage,
She got an appointment the same day (Friday) and I explained to her where I was located. The location should be ever so easy to find for a taxi-driver, since we are on the Nile, between Sheraton hotel and Cairo Zoo.
She had appointment 1:00pm . . . .
12:30pm she called and asked for the way again . . . in which I repeated. . .
1:00pm she called again and told me that the taxi-driver didn’t find it, if someone could explain in Arabic . . .
I gave the phone to one of the girls at the front-desk, who repeated the address and how to come there, in Arabic to the driver.
It showed up, that they were exactly cross the river of where we were, so she told him:
“ Look out the window and cross the river of where you are and you will see the sign of Gold’s Gym. You only cross the river and come down.”
1:30 pm . . she called again. . . . Again I gave the phone to the girl at the front-desk. . .
It showed up that the taxi-driver had taken wrong direction after crossing the bridge, but now wanted to go back . . .
2:00pm . . she called again . . . Now it showed up that the driver had gone towards the pyramids instead of bringing her to where she wanted.
The girl at the front-desk explained one more time how to come to the River Nile.
When she closed the phone, she looked worried at me and said: “I think this driver is not correct. Everybody knows where The River Nile and Cairo Zoo is . . . I’m worried about your client, Kirsten.”
2:30pm . . she called again. To me is appeared as if she was crying when she said: “ Kirsten, I don’t know where I am and I don’t know what to do.”
I told her: “Diata, your taxi-driver is not correct. Take the money you agreed upon out of your bag, keep it in you hand and open the door . . . even if the he is driving, only to force him to stop. Then get out of the car, pay the money through the window and run away from the car.
If you see a police-man nearby, run towards him . . . . Then you take another Taxi home.”
I continued: “Diata, I will call you after ½ hour to be sure you are safe and at home . . . OK?”
She said, still in distress: “OK . . . I will try.”
3:30pm I called her, now sure that she should be at home . . . . no one took the phone .
After this, I tried to call her every half hour without success. She did not take the phone . . . As the time went; I got more and more worried about her.
I send a SMS to her mobile . . . Asking if everything was OK with her.
I got no reply.
Every hour the whole night and the next day, I tried to come in contact with her by calling and sending SMS . . . . I never got any response.
At one point, someone took the phone, but didn’t answer . . .only let the connection stay open. I could hear some kind of music in the background, but no one wanted to talk to me.
Now I wondered . . . Is her mobile stolen, so the thief only didn’t want to talk? If that was the case . . . what had happened with Diata?
I should go to a business-meeting in the evening. (Now it was Saturday) I had trouble with concentrating and at the end, my business associate - Hassan, asked what was wrong.
I told him what had happened and that I was worried that something had happened to Diata.
At that moment another friend of mine - Pamela, from USA and working at US Aid in Cairo, called.
I suddenly could not hold myself and told her what had happened and asked her for advice in how to act.
She told me that I should contact Diata’s embassy, The Canadian Embassy. If she was registered, they could maybe do something.
Hassan volunteered in driving me down to the embassy. When we came, the embassy was closed and would not open before Monday 10:00am. I looked for any security, who would know any emergency-number to call. It was no security, it was no emergency-number to call, it was no one I could contact.
I was amazed. I had never seen any embassy without security, nor had I never heard about that it was no possibilities of emergency-contacts.
I called The Canadian Embassy and left “an emergency call” on the answering-machine, telling them to call me the first thing in the morning when the embassy opened on Monday.
I send a SMS to Diata saying; “Diata, is everything OK? If so, tell me . . . if I don’t get reply, it means that you are in trouble, and I will react according to that.”
I didn’t get any reply . . . . That meant that Diata was in problem. . . .
The police-station was approximately cross the street so I decided to rapport Diata missing. Having in my mind that it usually takes 48 hours before they start to search for a missing person, to give the person a chance to reappear. If I reported Diata missing now, it would already have gone more that 48 hours when her embassy starts looking for her.
Now, it was already 10:00pm Saturday. When we came in to the police-station I was told to speak with the police-officer in charge.
He listened to my story and called for a police-officer in a higher grade than himself.
He came 1 hour later.
I told him what had happened, my worry about Diata and that I had called Diata’s embassy.
The police-officer took a paper and asked: “ what is her fully name?”
I answered: “I don’t know . . . she had just arrived Cairo and the only thing I know is that her first name is Diata.”
He continued: “ Her age?”
I replied: “I don’t know, but taken from her voice, I guess between 35 ~ 40 years”
He looked at me and continued: “ Her address?”
I replied: “I don’t know. I only know she lives one or another place in Helopolis.”
He continued: “How does she look like . . . her appearance?”
I replied; “ I don’t know. I have never seen her before . . . . only heard her voice.”
The police-officer looked at me and said: “Madam . . . . here you come to rapport a person missing. You don’t know her fully name. You don’t know her age. You don’t know her looking. You don’t know her address. Do you expect us to find her??? What shall we look for . . . a ghost???”
It was now 3:30am Sunday morning/night.
The police-officer said: “Well, if you think she lives in Heliopolis, then the case belongs to the department there, so I will send you with escort to Heliopolis.”
Hassan and I were on our way in a police-car to Heliopolis police-station. Hassan aided me as an interpreter.
As we sat in the car, he suddenly whispered to me: “ Kirsten, I think you have come in trouble now. The two police-officers in the front-seat believe you have been playing with them.”
He continued: “ That is a very dangerous situation to come in, Kirsten. You can be taken into custody, and if they forget give a rapport, they may even forget you all together. If you have an emergency-number you can call, now is the time to make that call.”
I had an emergency number to my embassy . . . .
I called and was directed to the person in charge, Joern.
He told me to give the phone to one of the officers in the front-seat of the car.
He talked to the officer, who again made a call to the police head-office at the embassy. When I got the phone back, Joern told me to keep the line open until we had returned to the head-office. Joern chatted with me all the way back . . . . ½ hour.
When we came back to head-office, Joern told me to ask for the officer in charge and give the phone to him.
While we had been on our way to Heliopolis, the top-officer had been called and was there when we arrived.
I gave the phone to him. After he was finish talking with Joern, I got the phone back and Joern said : “ Now, you will be released. Give me a call when you are on your way home, so I’m sure they have released you.” I promised and hung up.
The police-officer looked at me and said: “ I think we have found you missing friend. Will you be able to recognize her voice?”
I said I thought so, but now it had gone 36 hours since I had a sleep, so my concentration started to go slow.
He made a call and gave me the phone. I got Diata on the pone . . . . .! ! !
Since the police had her cell-phone-number, they had called the company which used that sort of numbers. The company had tracked down the phone to find out where the phone was. The phone was in Sharm El Sheik in the south of Sinai.
Now was the question . . . .was the phone stolen, or was Diata in Sharm El Sheik?
When the police had tried to call, no one took the phone. Once someone had opened the phone, but not answered.
The police had then sent an e-mail to all the hotels in Sharm El Sheik asking for a woman from Canada, named Diata.
They had got answer from one hotel. They called the hotel and ordered them to wake up the woman and tell her to take the phone when it rings next time, since the call would be from the police.
That was how they found her.
It showed up . . . . that Diata had only got fed up of everything and with the same taxi-driver she had gone for a week-end in Sharm El Sheik.
I was left behind with the question: “When or how shall I react next time, if believe someone is in danger or trauma? Shall I react at all?”


lexcen said...

Your concern for the welfare of others is exemplary. Of course the wise would say "don't panic".

Grumpyunk said...

Good story. You did well and that's what counts.

Anonymous said...

I felt that she could have just told you her change of plans, even if she had been so pissed off.

MrsJoseGoldbloom said...

That was very rude of Diata to leave you hanging like that. You went above and beyond the call of duty for her.

Hammer said...

I would have reacted the exact same way as you did.

It is unfortunate that the person you were trying to help was so inconsiderate.

Chris in MB said...

WOW, that's a great story!
yeah that was pretty inconsiderate of that woman, people like her are one reason why so many people are apathetic.

btw, I followed you from lexcens blog

Kirsten N. Namskau said...

Chris: Yes, more so...just at that time we had had two cases of abuse between American citizen and taxi-drivers. One got killed and the other robbed and left far out in the dessert. That was why I also maybe was more attentive than usually.
Thanks for stopping by...