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There’s No Place Like November 21, 2007

Posted by KG in Etc., Family, FS Life, Traveling, Wife.

It’s not just the retailers that have decided the holiday season starts sometime around Canadian Thanksgiving. My client base has as well.

Over the last three weeks, the volume of “welfare and whereabouts” calls (AKA W/W’s, and I have no idea why the slash is there) I’ve taken has increased exponentially. For the uninitiated, these are calls from concerned family or friends asking for the Department’s assistance in finding their loved ones. The stories vary from the tragic to the comic, but share a common aura of despair and sadness. Why the sudden increase? It’s a feeling in the air, I guess: the year’s winding down and people are noticing the empty spots in their lives. Maybe calling the State Department is a last ditch effort — an attempt to fill the missing chair at the table, or at least definitively push it in for another year.

Believe it or not, the Department takes these calls very seriously. No matter how improbable success is, I respond to every request, even if it is with the worst possible news. That’s part of the gut-wrenching side of ACS work; it’s not our place to tell families “maybe you don’t want to hear from X,” only our job to pass the messages along.

It feels like there have been more tears on the other side of my phone of late, more franticness, more manic breathing and screamed entreaties. It’s all I can do to just listen, quietly, and explain my limitations all over again. But in a year of doing this, I’ve learned that there’s a big difference between a happy ending and an ending, and we only have limited ability to decide where a closed case falls on that spectrum.

All work-related angst aside (kind of), I’ve been doing my own reflecting. And believe it or not, it’s good thoughts that pop up. In three hours I’m on a train north to see my parents and sister. In 30 days I’m on a plane west to see my wife and mother-in-law. Life’s not perfect, but I’m doing everything in my power to move it towards happy. For that inner strength, part inherited and part learned over many tough years, I’m truly thankful.

Happy Thankgiving!



1. Consul-At-Arms - November 23, 2007
2. fso gt - November 24, 2007

Your job sounds interesting. Happy Holidays!

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