Friday, September 14, 2012

So I called China

Here's a funny story.

Ryan left town early Sunday afternoon and got back in Wednesday evening, right before we took the kids to Awana. Thursday mid-afternoon, his grandmother, her friend, and his parents arrived for four days. I, of course, had a busy week taking care of the girls by myself for a few days and preparing for company. I had talked to my sister a bunch over the course of the week, and she knew company was coming in Thursday night. So when I saw a call from her around 8:30pm, I thought, Oh, she probably just forgot to tell me something earlier...I'll take it really fast and no one will even notice I'm gone.

However, she is not calling with a quick question. 

Below is the actual* transcript from our phone conversation:

Allie: Hey . . . have you heard from Mom and Dad lately?
Me, talking: No. 
Me, thinking: Of course we haven't. They're in China!
Allie: Well, they usually email and haven't in 48 hours.
Me, talking: Hmmm. You're right. That's weird, but I am sure they are fine.
Me, thinking:  They've been kidnapped.
Allie: Yeah, I am sure they're fine, but I might call their hotel.
Me, talking: Ok, no big deal, let me know what you hear. 
Me, thinking: How am I going to break the news to the girls that their grandparents were kidnapped in China??
Me, talking: Wait, have you emailed them yet?
Allie: Yeah, I did, about an hour ago.
Me, talking: So they might not have gotten it yet?
Me, thinking: Of course they haven't received the email-- their phones were confiscated!

We hang up, and I pretend to be normal and not worried. After all, they are in CHINA, not TUSCON, and they aren't supposed to have normal communication with us. I go into the kitchen and start making the breakfast casserole for the morning. Allie calls a minute later and says she can't make an international call from her phone. I try. Neither of us gets it to work. Allie googles how to make an international phone call, and I keep making the casserole. 

(Don't tell Ryan this because he will never let me forget it, but I did a little google search myself: US tourists China kidnapping. No results--which wasn't even comforting since the AP probably hadn't had time to break the story anyway.)

(And yes, I really did google that.)

Allie calls back and says that the hotel said Mom and Dad were still checked in. Not satisfied, she decides to call their guide for that day (which is the day after the day we are on, so there is a bit of confusion about that, too). Their guide, "Julie," can't understand a word she is saying, and they eventually hang up. Allie tells me that she doesn't know what else to do and that she is just going to wait to hear back from them. I decide that enough is enough and I that am going to call their guide for the week, "Andy." But first, I learn I have to call Sprint and add a $4 plan to my phone so I CAN CALL CHINA and pay per minute at a reduced rate. (Always frugal, this one.) In the meantime, I get a text from Allie that says she heard from their butler and that he left a message at the hotel for them. I get everything worked out with Sprint, and I get Andy on the line. He is very nice and happy to talk to me and says my parents are very happy and that he just dropped them off at the airport to go visit another city for the day. Relieved, I say, "Oh good. But when you see them again, please tell them that they are in trouble with their daughters." Andy says, "They are in trouble?!" I say, "Oh, no! They are in trouble with ME! I was WORRIED!" And Andy says, "Oh, they are okay then?" And I say, "Wait, ARE they okay?" And he says, "Yes, they are very happy. I am so glad to talk to you, Katie!" And I say, "Me, too Andy. So Mom and Dad are fine?" And he says, "Oh, yes!" We hang up, and I tell Allie the good news.

So now I have to tell Ryan what Allie and I have done over the past hour. (Quick phone call from Allie, my foot!) He is, rightly, incredulous that we went to all that trouble to track down our parents when there was NO CAUSE FOR ALARM, because HELLO, THEY ARE ON VACATION IN CHINA.

(I think it is just so weird that we couldn't get in touch with Mom and Dad. I mean, they are in an airplane over China, and we can't get in touch with them to tell them to email us on a more regular schedule? How primitive is this world becoming?)

Anyway, so the concierge and butler at their hotel were contacted, Julie was contacted, and Andy was contacted. Now I am worried that when they get back to Beijing they will have a heart attack wondering what in the world was so bad here that we tried calling China F O U R times to get in touch with them. 

Parents. No matter how old they get, you never stop worrying about them.

*Actual = approximate