When is a person missing?
May 19, 2015 10:28 PM   Subscribe

It's 1:30 AM, well after my roommate typically comes home, and she's not here. I wouldn't typically worry, except she also hasn't come by to feed/walk her dog, which I've never known her to do. At what point do I do something and is there anything other than calling the police that I could do?

This may totally be a situation of my late-night brain blowing things out of proportion, but I could really use the reality check. Details I can think of:

-usually, she comes home at 6-7 if she comes straight from work or 10-11 if she goes to a wine bar she likes afterwards. Aside from the very rare weekend night, she's very consistent.
-she feeds and walks her dog when she gets home, and she's always very responsible about it
-dog doesn't have specific or urgent walk schedules/needs (small dog, pee pad trained, mostly uses those), so there's no specific hour. She knows I'm home a lot for doggy socialization these days and so I usually play that role when she works long hours. That said, I would have expected her to be here by now.
-we live in NYC, in a generally safe area but one with some occasional rough edges. She works in the East Village and usually takes the subway back. The walk from the subway to our apartment is less than a block.
-I don't think this is related, but I just heard ~7 gunshots/explosions (watching twitter to learn more) so that's definitely heightening the stress. The dog is freaked out, too.
-we're the kind of roommates who get along well in the apartment and are very friendly, but have our own social lives etc., so I don't actually know any of her friends or how to get in touch with them. We're not even facebook friends, though her profile is semi-public.
-I texted her ~20 minutes ago asking her if she wants me to feed the dog for her (something I've only done for her before when full-time dogsitting), and she hasn't responded yet.
-she has a fiancee that currently lives elsewhere so I'd be very surprised if she was out sleeping with someone, but hey, maybe. Still, the dog.
-I know she's been in a mega-stressful period with work and general life planning things (see wine bar, above)
-I've been home all afternoon/evening so I'm 100% sure that she didn't come take care of the dog unless she came and left while I was showering/drying my hair around 6:30. I did hear something, but in general, the building has thin walls and that's not too unusual.
-I've lived with her for about 5 months now so I feel like I know her routine fairly well

I really don't want to come across as crazy or overly concerned, but this has crossed the line into highly unusual territory. I also don't want to call the police unless I'm probably/definitely at emergency status. Is there anything I might try other than calling the police? I found her fiancee on facebook, and it's 12:30 PM where he is, but I think a message from me would just get lumped in his "other" folder anyways. I don't have a phone number and it would probably take serious snooping to find one (though I probably could). Same goes for her mom, who lives on the west coast.

I'm not planning on going to bed for a little while anyways, so I'm happy to wait up, and there's nothing here she's urgently needed for (I'm planning on feeding the dog as soon as I hit post, and she's very comfortable hanging out with me).

Reality check, mefi: should I be more/less worried than I am? What would you do?
posted by R a c h e l to Grab Bag (36 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
You texted her; did you try calling her?
posted by Sunburnt at 10:34 PM on May 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


-I texted her ~20 minutes ago asking her if she wants me to feed the dog for her (something I've only done for her before when full-time dogsitting), and she hasn't responded yet.

Call her!
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:34 PM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been home all afternoon/evening so I'm 100% sure that she didn't come take care of the dog unless she came and left while I was showering/drying my hair around 6:30. I did hear something, but in general, the building has thin walls and that's not too unusual.

Also: I understand why you're freaked, but this IS the most likely explanation.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:38 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I first met my wife, my friends said I disappeared for three days. The dog I was supposed to be babysitting? Yeah, Cody went hungry for a day before my roommate fed him. This was a hilarious joke at my wedding.

Which is to say, give it a little while longer. But definitely be a buddy and feed the dog.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:49 PM on May 19, 2015


I'd call the police. Maybe she's fine but this is worrisome.
posted by bearwife at 10:56 PM on May 19, 2015


Sorry, yes: called her, it rang but went to voicemail.

The shower and hair-drying were both each about 10 minutes and there was time in between them, which is why I'd be surprised. Plus, the way the bathroom is, the neighbors sound like they're in my apartment all the time. I know it's not impossible, though.

Sorry, carry on. Pup is happily eating now :)
posted by R a c h e l at 10:56 PM on May 19, 2015


I'd wait until the morning, and if she hasn't responded to your text or call in the morning (before noon), call the police. Better to have a false alarm than having lost 12 critical hours.
posted by pando11 at 11:10 PM on May 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


-I know she's been in a mega-stressful period with work and general life planning things (see wine bar, above)

My guess is, something unusual happened at work, and she's blind drunk (which can happen to even consistent, responsible people). But yeah, would wait up, and agree with pando11.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:13 PM on May 19, 2015


I'd also welcome any anecdotes, calming words, or specific tactics right now - I'm getting more and more anxious.

My plan right now is to wait until about 10/10:30AM (I'll be in a graduation ceremony, so...we'll see how that works) and then call her office; if she isn't in, and they say that's unusual or unexpected (if they'll tell me), I'll probably call the police.
posted by R a c h e l at 11:16 PM on May 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sounds like a good plan. not showing up to work is a definite red flag.

I agree with the others that it's very likely it's one of those nights where something unexpected happens.

Once I disappeared too because I ran into a friend and my phone died. I came home to very worried roommates.

In any case you're being a good roommate! Try to remind yourself the probability is very low something bad happened - and you have an action plan in the rare case she wouldn't be at work in the morning.
posted by pando11 at 11:19 PM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think your plan is a good one. I think calling her work in the morning if she hasn't come home is not an overreaction.

Anecdote: I had something similar happen with a roommate, who I was very close to and knew her routine well - ie. we'd *always* text if one of us was staying at our partner's house that night etc etc, she *always* asked me to feed her pet if she was staying out late. One night she didn't come home and didn't respond to my whatsapp or text message. I fretted, but fed the cat and went to sleep. Turned out she'd just had a complete brain flake, had stayed at her partner's house and just blanked on letting me know. Much more likely something along these lines has happened.
posted by liquorice at 11:27 PM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Have you checked her room?
Wait till the morning, check again, then call the police.

Anecdote: Some weeks ago I got food poisoning wile I was in town alone and I was too sick to get a taxi. I drank tea and slept till 3 in the morning on a sofa at a 24 h Starbucks. I was then lucid enoght to get a taxi home.
Next morning my flatmates wondered why I had not come home, but I was too weak to make my presence known.
The cleaning lady found me in bed, gave me tea and tucked me in
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 12:17 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you're still anxious, the police have a non-emergency line - they can tell you when she'd be considered missing!
posted by jrobin276 at 1:22 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


This post has me on the edge of my seat. Can you please give us an update what is happening?

With regard to calming you down: my sister went missing on the northern border of Thailand for a week (!). Didn't call although she promised, cell phone went straight to voice mail. She ended up being fine. Her cell phone was dead, lost the charger in transit and couldnt buy a new one. I was angry with her :) but she was fine and had had a great adventure.

What I did in the meantime: check her Facebook and started contacting people who might have last seen her. Can you contact her fiance or her parents? Well maybe that will give them panic as well...might not be the best idea. But I would do that nonetheless, if she hasn't turned up by morning!
posted by Fallbala at 3:53 AM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd hold off until morning and then calling her work. It's entirely possible that she met a really hot guy at the wine bar and they....went back to his place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:33 AM on May 20, 2015


Did she come home? If not I'm sure you've thought about this too, but I'm sure the pup would appreciate being walked before you leave for the day.

Let us know!
posted by lydhre at 5:03 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anecdote: I went out dancing with a gay male friend (I'm female) and around 3:30am he put me in a cab home; he was going to get the next one. Same routine as always. His partner woke me at 7am, hysterical, he hadnt made it home.

Partner was a mess, and i had to start making calls. Friend wasnt answering calls, texts so I started calling hospitals (as seen on TV!) They were super helpful and nice but no luck. I called the police station non emergency number (local station to where we'd been) and they were also helpful, i wasnt calling to report him missing but to ask if there had been any accidents or incidents my friend mightve got caught up in. It had been a quiet night so no, the police didnt have anything to suggest but they listened and took my concerns seriously and told me to call back in a few hours.

I dont know how long it was later, a few hours i guess, but eventually friend called back. I was so panicked by then i burst into tears and hung up on him. He was totally fine. He'd bumped into acquaintances moments after seeing me off and joined them for a drink, totally losing track of time. Assuming I was asleep and partner asleep, he had no idea we were concerned.

Your roomate is likely totally fine, probably sitting in a bar drunk. But I would call the non emergency number just in case, it will reassure you and they can hopefully tell you if anything has happened locally that she could be caught up in. Hopefully the officer you speak to will be as kindly as the one I spoke to.
posted by kitten magic at 5:11 AM on May 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh and do check her room first. As a kid i came home from a friends's place, said hi to my dad and went to my room. My mum got home, said where's kitten magic? dad replied I don't know and in my room I heard the commotion of my mum yelling about my friends's dad and preparing to storm over there accusing him of god knows what (it was an interesting insight!). If i hadn't heard her and made myself known I can only imagine what wouldve happened next but it probably wouldve been incredibly embarrassing, involved terrible accusations and have been a massive waste of many people's time, all cause dad wasnt really paying attention.
posted by kitten magic at 5:20 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Still not here. I will probably call the non emergency line now, then check the apartment and her office immediately after my commencement ceremony.

Thanks for your concern, everyone.
posted by R a c h e l at 5:53 AM on May 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


If you have time before leaving, I'm sure the puppy would appreciate a walk, but I know it's a big day for you! Leave a note in the apartment in case your roommate's phone was broken or lost and she turns up while you're gone, and ask her to text you. Her office is probably open now - maybe you could quickly call en route to the ceremony? If she's at work, great, and if not, that will be a key detail.
posted by barnone at 6:14 AM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ok, her phone is probably off or flat, and she is a grown up, out doing grown up things, while her dog is at home, perfectly fine.
I'd go waaaaay on the 'not missing' side, and when she turns up, do NOT give her a hard time, or tell her how worried you were etc, other than saying:
"If you're going to be out, you can always call and let me know, and I'll feed the dog. Also, it reassures me because otherwise I worry a little."

Because otherwise, it'll probably look like a massive parental-style overstepping of bounds.
When anxiety is triggered, it's tempting to blame the person you were worrying about, or try and let them know they are 'responsible' for this stress, rather than acknowledging that the anxiety was internal, and that from an outside perspective, unless previously discussed, an adult housemate is under no obligation to contact you if they are going to be out late.

If you aren't able to get hold of her by lunchtime tomorrow, THEN start worry - partly because, you've already contacted all the people you know.
If she is in trouble, you have absolutely no idea where or why, so the police can do absolutely nothing without any information. It's just an anxiety breeding ground.

I have seen people have fallings out with friends and housemates over things like this - or at least, 'distancing'. It happened to me from the otherside, when a family member with an anxiety disorder, contacted my mother because they couldn't get hold of me, then my mother started berating me for worrying them - and I had to hold firm, and point out that I was under no obligation to be available at all times, especially unexpectedly, to another relative. That treating their anxiety as rational, didn't help, and that I was an adult, allowed to do my own thing, or have my phone off.

Here's hoping your house mate is fine, but even if they aren't, it sounds like there is nothing you can do about it til tomorrow. Occams razor says, go to sleep!
posted by Elysum at 6:57 AM on May 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Crossing my fingers for you, your pup and your roommate.
posted by samthemander at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's hoping your house mate is fine, but even if they aren't, it sounds like there is nothing you can do about it til tomorrow.

(Just for the record, this post went up ~12 hours ago--it's already "tomorrow" where the OP is)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:17 AM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


You might as well at least friend her on facebook while you're thinking about it so that next time you might be able to see her post saying "met Dan by surprise!" or whatever.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:57 AM on May 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yes, she is a grown up and she has grown up responsibilities, if she is just out doing grown up things then its completely unreasonable of her to expect her roommate to be home taking care of her dog. What if OP had met someone by surprise and stayed out all night?

Its totally reasonable to be worried about your normally predictable and responsible roommate when she hasn't come home to take care of her dog or sent you a message to ask you to feed/walk the dog and isn't answering her calls or texts. If the phone rang until it went to voicemail, the phone isn't dead. Its possible she didn't hear it if she's at a club or sleeping elsewhere.

I hope your roommate is just having an uncharacteristic night of irresponsibility but its not crazy to be worried under the circumstances
posted by missmagenta at 11:52 AM on May 20, 2015 [29 favorites]


Wondering what happened! Hope she is okay.
posted by trillian at 2:02 PM on May 20, 2015 [37 favorites]


Now I am starting to worry about the OP. No word?
posted by AugustWest at 6:14 PM on May 20, 2015


Did she turn up for work today? I'm getting really worried too.
posted by kitten magic at 6:34 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Today was Rachel's graduation ceremony so she's probably been busy with celebrations and might have guests in town.
posted by barnone at 6:38 PM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Today was Rachel's graduation ceremony so she's probably been busy with celebrations and might have guests in town. —barnone
Thanks for the reminder... now to re-read this thread and apply its advice to Rachel's "absence." :)
posted by SemiSophos at 7:45 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Folks, I completely understand the desire for an update but the request does not need to be repeated. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:05 PM on May 20, 2015


Thanks for checking in, everybody. My phone was dead for most of the evening, so I'm sorry I didn't get back earlier - I really appreciate that everyone is so concerned.

I finally got ahold of her in the afternoon. Turns out she did just get completely smashed and stay with a friend. It's uncharacteristic for her but I'm SO glad that's all it was.

Thanks for being there to calm me down :)
posted by R a c h e l at 9:11 PM on May 20, 2015 [60 favorites]


Phew!

Thanks so much for letting us know, even after an eventful day. You must be relieved and exhausted.

Hope it was a happy graduation day!
posted by whoiam at 9:22 PM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Give her dog a big old scratch-behind-the-ears from all of us.
posted by blueberry at 9:45 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you for the update. And congratulations to your degree!
posted by Fallbala at 12:31 AM on May 21, 2015


So glad to hear you are both safe! I didn't post an answer because everyone else had it covered, but I kept checking in for an update.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:10 AM on May 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


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