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Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Thanksgivings

Brandon and I spent this Thanksgiving separated, he in Cairo and the girls and I in North Carolina. In North Carolina, we enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving complete with a delicious meal, the company of my sister and her family, and beautiful fall weather. Nothing went wrong; the turkey was perfectly cooked, the potatoes perfectly mashed, and rolls fragrantly warm. The only incident that could even been barely considered and incident was Kathleen's refusal to eat her sweet potatoes. She ate them anyway after some 'coaxing.'

Brandon also had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. A family in the branch who lives half a block away invited him over for dinner and they enjoyed playing video games together, another turkey feast, and a movie to finish up the evening. Brandon and I had a nice chat before we ate and before he went to bed, due to the 7-hour time difference. He had just made it to bed when the phone rang.

Various FSOs take turn on 'duty,' being the first contact for people who are in distress, trouble, lost, or any other thing that various Americans abroad can conceive that they might need U.S. government intervention in. Just in case you had plans, stabbing people in other countries is still illegal and the government won't help you get out of that trouble. So is illegally importing cars.

This week, Brandon is enjoying his first spell as duty officer, which is why his phone rang at 11 p.m. Thanksgiving night. An AmCit (American Citizen) who had checked herself into a local hospital several days earlier had died. And Brandon was in charge of taking care of arrangements to contact her family. Unfortunately for Brandon, all contact numbers she provided were not correct, and by 2:30 that morning, he still hadn't found anybody to tell about her death.

And so instead of going to church Friday morning, Brandon instead got to visit the hospital, identify the woman, visit her apartment, look for pertinent information, and attempt to locate a next of kin to dictate what they wanted done with her remains and possessions. To his knowledge, no duty officer had been faced with a body with no next of kin, which makes things more difficult.

But, to make things more difficult, he received a phone call around noon. Another lady had died. And he was responsible to call her next of kin and discuss what they wanted done with her remains.

So, it hasn't been the most restful Thanksgiving weekend he's ever had, with more visits to the Embassy than he would prefer for a weekend. And it's a long one - they have tomorrow off, too. Hopefully everyone in Egypt (who is an American citizen) will decide to stay alive.


UnkaDave said...

Perhaps he can do his patriotic part by staying alive through the weekend, too. We will do our best to follow suit here in Raleigh.

Nancy said...

So that's why Charlie T. Right was MIA on Friday...we were wondering...

Poor guy--sounds like an awful weekend. I'm glad yours went a little smoother.