“Missing Flight? Missing Person?” By Chad Robert Parker

“YOK,” “yok,” “YOK,” “yok” the goof-ball kids I mentored were exclaiming, half bored and half on a mission, as they marched back and forth in the airport. They were alternating speech and each holding up a sign. One sign read, Yok (sounding like yoke or yolk) the nickname for the foreign exchange student we were to pick up. The other sign read, Welcome.

In college I had left a girl at the airport. I forgot to bring my cell phone. After driving around for a couple hours and walking through the terminals a few times I gave up. I figured she would have contacted roommates and other friends by the time I was done looking. Unfortunately, when I got back home she was not there. Her roommates ended up going and picking her up. I felt horrible about that. I don’t know how I never saw where she was sitting, waiting, outside along the pickup curb. I was not going to leave anyone else stranded.

This young Chinese girl could be even harder to find. I didn’t know how we were going to track her down. The flight she was supposed to be on had arrived and we never saw her exit the security area to the baggage claim in the thirty minutes we were waiting.

My counterparts were getting a bit restless. They were pushing each other around in a wheelchair and starting to annoy the Senior citizens. We put a call out on the PA system for Yok to come to the Service Desk. Yok didn’t know much English so I didn’t know if she would catch her name being called out or know where to go. We went to the International terminal also, although she wasn’t supposed to be on an International flight for her last leg. We tried the PA system again 15 minutes later. Finally, an employee of the airport accompanied Yok back to us upon realizing we were the one’s looking for this little Chinese girl she had found wandering around.