For years, my children and I flew Broom Express, I mean Air Canada to Nova Scotia just as soon as the school year ended. My husband,Glenn, worked at General Electric Canada and would join us for his holidays in July and August. I counted down the days until his arrival. Ever the optimist, I slept, listening with one ear, in case he should arrive earlier than planned. This pattern repeated itself for years.
One year, however, the day of Glenn’s highly anticipated arrival came and went ― no Glenn, no phone call, nothing. I phoned everyone in the Peterborough area I could think of to ask if they had seen him recently. Of course, no one had seen him for days and the last time they spoke with him, he was eager to leave for Nova Scotia.
It was the dark ages of communication. No internet, no email, no cell phones ― just land lines, payphones and snail mail.
My hyperactive imagination went into overdrive, which it does on a regular basis, but I didn’t realize it. I replayed the possibilities over and over in my mind until I reached a perfectly logical conclusion. Glenn must have fallen asleep at the wheel in the middle of the night with no other cars on the highway to witness the accident. I envisioned a Dodge K-car down an embankment, the horn blowing, the speedometer stuck on 220 km and an unresponsive man slumped over the steering wheel. There was no question about it ― Glenn was dead and I was a widow left with two small children.
It was time to plan a funeral. Would it be held in Nova Scotia, Ontario or both? What hymns would we sing? Who could deliver the eulogy? How would I explain it to Jeremy and Allison?
The “missing husband fiasco” only worsened with each passing minute. I felt compelled to take action. I borrowed Dad’s truck and drove the 30 km to the RCMP detachment in Shelburne. I wanted to know about any single vehicle accidents that may have occurred in Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia overnight. Then I poured out my sad story and explained that my husband should have arrived yesterday. Something catastrophic must have happened to him.
I was totally unprepared for their reaction. Their lack of concern and ridicule was shameful. This was their assessment of the situation:
Mrs. Clark, we can understand the concern you have for your husband’s safety. We have not received any reports of accidents. We’re sure he is just fine. He probably got tired, stopped for something to eat and drink, and picked up a floozy at the bar.
They suggested that I go home and wait for him to arrive in a day or two. Obviously, they didn’t know us very well. Insulted and in a huff, I walked out and cried all the way home. Was I crying because I was worried about Glenn or mad at being dismissed by the RCMP? Wanna bet how much laughing went on when I walked out?
They probably told fellow police officers, “You missed a good one today. Some crackpot of a woman from Ontario waltzed in and reported her husband missing. She expected us to believe he was killed in an accident somewhere between Ontario and Nova Scotia. He was no more in an accident than I can fly. We all know what he was doing. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.”
The next day? Still no Glenn. What was going on? I thought I would pull my hair out. Glenn finally rolled in on the third day, oblivious to what had been taking place. I was mad, glad and relieved, all at the same time. Somehow, I had the wrong information. Glenn insisted he arrived exactly when he said he would.
Weeks later, the RCMP showed up. They wanted to know if my husband ever arrived. I confirmed that he had. Then, they had the NERVE to ask if they were right about Glenn’s whereabouts. I explained what had happened, but I don’t think for a split second they believed my story.
As far as they were concerned, Glenn got tired of driving, stopped at a watering hole, drank too much and enjoyed the company of a New Brunswick floozy. Almost 30 years letter, I’m still holding a grudge against the RCMP. Perhaps it is time to let it go.
The whole debacle could have been prevented with just one clunkety, prehistoric cell phone, the size of a small suitcase.
Humfph, floozy, my eye!