Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Written by Tim Gorman, Building Supervisor, Nights

A telephone call is made by a staff member based on a log concerning a missing person. Routine stuff. Shortly after, about 2 AM on a Tuesday morning, a vehicle shows up with the missing person's brother. He's fidgety and eager. Danny, the staff member who made the call approaches me. Yeah, that guy's brother's here. What should we do? Some red flags go up in my mind. Confidentiality, stuff like that. Sometimes missing persons don't like to be found. But I find the guy sleeping outside in front of the doors to the old building. He's under a blanket with some girl. Hey, buddy, I guess your brother's here. Do you want to see him? He's maybe in his late thirties. He wipes the sleep from his eyes and sits up. Yeah, ok. I point out his brother half way down the driveway. That's him, over there.

And that's about it. I walk over to his brother, not close enough to be personable. He's coming. The brother's eager anticipation turns to joy on his face at the sound of my words. I'm just as eager but for some reason I don't let on. He opens the door to his vehicle and people pour out from behind tinted glass. A mom. A dad. A sister-in-law, maybe? But it's the dad who gets me.

The missing guy seems to take forever to walk the 40 or so metres to the vehicle. Enough time for my memories to flood back from the corner of Woodland and East Hastings about 11 years ago. My own dad has tears streaming down his face. He's travelled from the prairies to the coast to search the streets and alleys of the downtown eastside. He's looking for me. He's been searching for about a week. And now he's hugging me and asking me if I want to come home. I'm a little afraid to hug him because of my smell but I do and I say, Yes. He's gotten so much older since I saw him last, but still, his hug almost breaks me in half.

And now, in the driveway of the DI another dad and another son are hugging. But the image that's seared in my mind happens a few seconds later. The found guy is hugging his mom now. But I can't take my eyes off the dad. He's taken a step back from the family and for an instant he turns his head back, looks skyward and smiles. It was only an instant, but it told of all the years. The years of pain and longing and hope all come to pass. Pure joy, I guess.

The family gathers around and the sister-in-law shows off photos on a cell phone. This is your neice. Stuff like that, I imagine.

If I wasn't the Building Supervisor, I guess tears would have been flowing down my cheeks.

A few phone calls are made and throughout the building staff members start looking over balconies and gathering around security monitors watching the scene in the driveway unfold. And for a few quiet moments, most of us stop doing what we're doing: stats, cleaning bathrooms, washing socks, putting out small fires, whatever. I don't think any of us said much. What would you say anyway?

Okay, I've gotta go do lunches now.

Submitted by Tim Gorman, Building Supervisor, Nights

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