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When Does It Become Meddling?
May 20th, 2011

I come to you today seeking guidance.  There exists a continuum on the spectrum between concerned and meddling, and I’m not quite sure where the midpoint is.  A bit of background for you…

Late last week I e-mailed one of our regular babysitters (Nanny had plans) to ask if she could babysit Sunday evening while GAP and I went out for our anniversary to our favorite Irish pub for some fish and chips and a set or two of live music.  No problem, she said.  Then on Sunday evening, about 30 minutes prior to her scheduled arrival time I surprised GAP with the news that we were going out and to get dressed.  Six thirty came and went.  I called the sitter and left a voice mail.  I texted from GAP’s phone (people often forget I can’t text…).  And then, an hour later I sent an e-mail saying I assumed she wasn’t coming and could she please touch base and let me know what happened.

On Monday I posted a little recap of our anniversary on our private family blog, and mentioned the failed pub outing in passing.  One of our best friends read my post and inquired if the babysitter in question was (we’ll call her) Amy, because Amy had failed to show up for them earlier in the weekend.  Our no-show was indeed Amy.

We have left many messages for Amy asking her to confirm that she’s okay.  I called the emergency contact numbers I had to check on her, only to find disconnected numbers and outdated voice mail boxes.  I called the university where she’s enrolled and talked to the Dean of Students, whose emergency contacts were no more fruitful than my own.  Another friend of ours checked the Highway Patrol logs to confirm that her name wasn’t listed in any accidents.  It wasn’t.  Then yesterday morning she failed to show up for a fourth friend of mine for a date that had been set a couple of weeks prior.

The long and short of it is this: we’re worried.  She has been watching IEP on an as-needed basis for two years.  She babysits for my good friend at least weekly.  She has never been more than five minutes late.  She has never failed to respond to calls or e-mails.  This is highly out of character for her.  And yet, I’m not sure how far to take my concern.  If she were our regular nanny, or a close friend, or a relative I’d have called the police days ago.  But she isn’t.  So at what point does my well-intentioned concern cross the line into intrusive meddling?

I want to do the right thing.  But I’m not sure what the right thing is at this point.

15 Responses to “When Does It Become Meddling?”

  1. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Gale. You are worried. For good reason. Call. xo

  2. Sarah Says:

    I think you should call this in. Better to be overcautious I think. If this is way outside her normal behavior, then something has got to be wrong. Worst case scenario is you call and the police find her within 3 hours. Then what? She’s mad at you? Who knows? I don’t know much but I do know we’re all connected and sometimes–a lot of times–it takes others to look out for us, point us in the right direction, help us along.

    Keep us posted. I feel sad and kind of shocked by the whole story. I do hope she’s alright!

  3. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Yikes. I also think your concern is warranted. And if you do call and she is found and all is alright, what’s the worst that has happened?

    You’ve shown concern. Maybe she’s embarrassed. Big deal.

    Make sure she’s ok.

  4. Laura H. Says:

    I would call the police. I would maybe first leave a voicemail saying that you are doing that, giving her one last chance to come forward if in fact she’s just decided to shirk all responsibilities and is too embarassed to respond. I would want someone to do the same for me if I dropped off the face of the earth, and I imagine you would too.

    A few years ago we had an intern in my office who did not show up for work. Perhaps one would consider it meddling or tattling to call his emergency contact number (his parents) which our COO did, but it turned out the intern had passed away alone in his apartment. The call got his parents over to his apartment, and while it didn’t save his life, it did cause his body to be found sooner than later.

    I pray that Amy’s case is just a matter of flaking out, and that she is safe!

  5. John Scott Says:

    I think you’re doing the right thing.

  6. John Scott Says:

    Calling the police, that is. Way better safe than sorry. This does not sound like a simple miscommunication.

  7. Rebecca Says:

    Sketchy. Definitely call. When it’s a question of safety and well being, I don’t think it’s possible to meddle.

  8. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    I think Laura H’s suggestion is perfect: leave one last voicemail letting her know that you’re going to call the police. And then call them. The situation is definitely worrisome and I think the possible good that you do by intervening far outstrips any awkwardness you might cause her.

  9. Rachel C Says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a bit… have yet to comment… but this one struck me… any update?

  10. Gale Says:

    Rachel C – Thanks for the note. Unfortunately I don’t have much new to report. I’m going to provide a more detailed update with tomorrow’s post, but in the meantime the broad strokes of the situation are that I did call the police, but they weren’t able to confirm anything. So we still don’t know anything. Very disconcerting. Hopefully there will be good news soon.

  11. Ten Dollar Thoughts » Blog Archive » Worth the Wait Says:

    [...] What Are Ten Dollar Thoughts? Ten Dollar Thoughts Just another WordPress weblog « When Does It Become Meddling? [...]

  12. Rachel C Says:

    Just wondering if there was ever any update….

  13. Gale Says:

    Rachel C – Yes!! I’m sorry, I should have posted something. A few weeks ago we heard from her. She was in a bad car wreck and a neck/back brace kept her from using her computer to respond to e-mails. She went through a few months of rigorous physical therapy, and was just recently cleared by her doctor to resume normal activities. We were all very relieved to learn that she’s okay. Thanks for asking, and I’ll include an update on tomorrow’s regular post.

  14. Rachel C Says:

    Thanks! Stories like that tend to stick with me… I am glad to hear that she is recovering well.

  15. Ten Dollar Thoughts » Blog Archive » Beyond the White House Lawn Says:

    [...] I heard from a commenter asking if there were any news on our missing babysitter.  This prompted me to realize that others [...]