Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Inspector5000 and the Case of the Elderly Uzbek

Michael5000 was hard at work at the office. Suddenly, there was a commotion in the lobby! A elderly man from Uzbekistan had been found on the light rail, disoriented and unable to find his way home. When asked for an address, he gave a street number in Tashkent.

A conversation broke out in Russian, which michael5000 does not know. He watched the man for a while, noting his too-thin jacket, his belly-length white beard, and his poorly fitted dentures that kept threatening to leap out of his mouth as he spoke. But, with the conversation continuing in Russian, michael5000 eventually went back to his desk.

After a while, a coworker came by to confer. "We don't want to scare him by calling the police," she said, "but we just don't know what else to do! He can't tell us anything except his name and the names of his children. We've run them through all our databases, but none of them have ever been served by our office. We've called all of the organizations that serve people who speak Russian, but they don't know who he is either. I guess we'll have to call the cops."

"I'm not so sure about that," said michael5000. "I might be able to help."

What did michael5000 do to get the man home?



[this story, as with all stories related to my work, has been highly fictionalized to protect the confidentiality of the people I work with]

22 comments:

fingerstothebone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fingerstothebone said...

Never mind...I'm kinda sleep deprived. I'm going to bed now.

Cartophiliac said...

M5K called upon FriendX who speaks Russian...

Tereza said...

Michael called ICE and they took care of the problem, as they seem so eager to do these days, if you know what I mean. Sorry for the black humor.

Rebel said...

OOOH! I *LOVE* this!

a) pulled up google earth (or other cartographic reference materials) and helped him identify where he lives *now*

b) called 911

c) handed him some Russian literature so he could read for a bit until he was calm enough to tell you where he lived

d) called Tri-met, which cannot always be exactly on time, but is nevertheless surprisingly helpful at times.

e) took him to the nearest Uzbekistanese restaurant, where the old lady behind the counter started berating the poor man for forgetting to bring the milk she'd sent him out for in the first place.

f)... I'm out of ideas.

fingerstothebone said...

I got it -- you handed him a cell phone and he called his family.

margaret said...

I like to think you put him on your handlebars and gave him a nice bike ride home.

Dug said...

If you're like me you've always wanted to go to Tashkent and finally, here was your excuse. You took him home and are blogging from a hipster internet cafe in Tashkent drinking some kind of cool tea.

Ben said...

Yeah, I was going to suggest that you either showed him a map and asked him to point out where he lives, or you drove him around until he recognized his neighborhood.

But the other comments posted are much more creative/interesting.

sister jen said...

Well, young Master Brown--what do a thin jacket, a long beard, and loose dentures add up to? In a Russian speaker? Ummmm.... I have no idea. But I can already tell there's gonna be a fight for the movie rights.

Morgan said...

Look up his name or his childrens' names in the phone book?

margaret said...

The suspense is killing me.

KarmaSartre said...

This is just like the latest John LeCarre, "A Most Wanted Man".

Elizabeth said...

Mr. Uzbek Tashkent is currently sleeping in the Castle5000 guest room under a creatively-designed quilt, with hopes that he will wake up in the morning with a clearer memory. Of course, after all of the vodka they've consumed tonight, we'll have to hope that Michael5000 remembers where he works ...

Jenners said...

After preparing soda bread for the hungry man, Michael5000 whipped out his handy map of Russia, tracked down the man's ancestral town, Googled to get the information directory in said town and found out the man's identify ... turns out the man was really a KGB agent sent over to steal the answers to the next Thursday quiz! Was he successful? Tune in tomorrow when an anonymous comment written entirely in Russian takes home the gold star!

margaret said...

I wanna know what Fingers said first!

Michael5000 said...

@fingers: Detection is always easier after a good rest.

@Carto: The problem wasn't the language, we had plenty of that. The problem was the man's disorientation.

@Tereza: If I'd wanted to hassle him, I coulda done that myself!

@Rebel: answer (e) would not have been a bad one.

@fingers: Also not a bad answer. As you know from your work with the elderly, it's quite possible that although he didn't "know" his telephone number, he would have been quite capable of dialing it. But I didn't think of that.

@meg: That woulda been so awesome!

@Dug: Also awesome.

@Ben: A map would have just been colored paper to him. Had I world enough and time, the driving-around approach might have worked.

@sis: I've been waiting and waiting for this blog to generate my breakthrough contract!

@Karma: Note to self -- sue LeCarre.

@Elizabeth: I try not to bring folks home from work for all-night binges. Unprofessional.

@Jenners: My soda bread appreciates the homage!

But we have a winner, people! Morgan is right -- I looked up the man's last name in the phone book, dialed the number for the only listing, and when his wife answered I handed her off to a coworker who shares her language. A weary looking sister-in-law arrived 20 minutes later to take him home.

I tell ya -- people just don't think about the phone book anymore. There were probably three or four man-hours spent trying to track this guy down, but when I pulled out that thick white book everyone had this look on their face of "Oh! Hadn't thought of that!"

Well done, Morgan. You give me faith in the future. Of phone books.

Rebel said...

D'oh! I always denegrate the big ol' phone book, but I did use it on a regular basis. Glad you got him home.

fingerstothebone said...

The phone book!? I have the last 3 sets of phone books they delivered to my house sitting out on the deck still. Never even brought them into the house, after 6 months. In fact, I think the previous set finally made it into the garage, probably to make room on the deck for the last set.

margaret said...

Ah, such a happy ending. Good work, M5K. I fight with my husband to keep the phone books in the house all the time, and then when we need to look up numbers real quick-like, I pick up the old tomes and torment him with, "Look it takes nanoseconds to open this many pages!"

We've even had races, and the Luddites almost always win this one.

Morgan said...

I should totally get 20 gold stars and 50 EPs for that.

DrSchnell said...

Title of this one sounds like one from a list of rejected Encyclopedia Brown book titles...