Mis-Connection

I’m writing from the Singapore Airlines lounge in Singapore where I’m sitting, enjoying a snack, and taking it easy for the first time in days. You know how it is before a big trip? All the planning. The packing. The worrying over what needs to get done before the trip, for the trip? It can make you crazy… This is the only excuse I have for racing into Jakarta’s lux megamall, Grand Indonesia, a couple of days ago, without my PHONE.  (Don’t laugh. I know what you’re thinking: Big deal, will it hurt to go a few hours without being connected via phone?)

Not having my phone wouldn’t have bothered me one little bit—if it weren’t for Aan. I don’t drive in Jakarta, Aan does. Over the years, he and I have developed an efficient drop-off/pick-up system. It works like this: Aan drives me to a mall or shop entrance. We both note the place and agree where we will meet up. Then Aan drives off and I go about my business. When I’m finished with whatever I’m doing, I give him a call and he picks me up. Simple—except if I forget my phone…

I didn’t realize I’d forgotten my phone until I was ready to go and began digging around in my humongous purse for it. I knew instantly it was In the car. I’d been checking my e-mail as we drove and must have left it on the seat. My only hope was that someone called me and Aan heard the phone ring and realized I’d left it. Or, that he’d spotted it on my seat. If not, he’d never realize I was phoneless and come looking. Instead he would sit wherever he was, waiting and waiting and waiting for my call.

I scurried back to our appointed meeting place and looked around. No familiar, most common of all-silver mini-vans hanging about. Might he be inside watching for me?. If he realized I didn’t have my phone, he might come inside to wait an watch for me. It was air-conditioned… Alas, there was nary a a slight, big-eyed, spikey-haired Aan in sight.

Not everyone in Jakarta uses our system. Some use the tried and true Car Call method. Established long before hand phones became common, Car Call is exactly that. When a patron is ready to be picked up, he or she goes to the Car Call desk and tells the attendant the driver’s name and place of employment. For instance, if I were to call Aan, I would say. “Aan, dari BP” (“dari” means from or with) and the attendant calls that out over the loud speakers, which sounds in the garage, and soon he’d drive up to fetch me.

Unfortunately, using the Car Call is not our system. It’s not many drivers favorite system as it means the driver has to park in the garage, within ear shot of the speakers. He can’t eat, or smoke, or hang with friends. And worse, he might have to stay in the dreaded underground garage. Dreaded because several Jakarta hotel bombings ago, drivers were trapped underground in a garage. Aan does not like those cursed garages.

I tried Car Call anyway, hoping, with little hope, that Grand Indonesian was one of those places where Aan likes to park near the speakers. And I waited.

I tried Car Call again. And I waited…and waited.

And while I waited, I didn’t just wait, I came up with a plan. I could ask someone to borrow his or her phone and call Curtis at work and ask him to call Aan. Or I could call Rusnati at home and ask her to call Aan. Or, if I knew Aan’s number, I could call him myself.

I was mustering up enough words to ask one of the mall employees if I could use  precious phone minutes for an emergency (how do you say "emergency" in Bahasa Indonesia?And should I pretend to be sick or dying) our lovely, silver mini-van drove up. Yeah, Aan!

The van door was barely closed behind me when Aan started in on how I had forgotten my phone. How it had rung almost as soon as I’d left. How he had been back and forth looking for me, worrying about me... How he had gone into the mall asking employees if they had seen a tall, hair-less white lady in tan pants wandering around…How he'd given the Car Call attendant my description and told them to call me if they saw someone fitting my description. (I’m sure if he’d had a photo he would have shown around it ala every cop program ever aired, or made copies and posted them.)  It was a though I were a teen, being lectured by my adult. Blah, blah, blah….

Back home, Aan did the most “Dad” thing of all. He handed me a small piece of paper torn from his notebook. “Keep this in your purse,” he instructed. On the paper, in tiny, tidy letters, were written his name and phone number.

I felt like a kid, a silly kid, true. But also like a well-cared for kid.

I promise, Dad/Aan, I’ll never leave home without it!