"My wife is missing and I've called all the jails, hospitals, friends and family," Tom said. "And no one has seen her. She hasn't touched our accounts."
"Okay, let me ask you a few questions. Does she suffer from any mental disorders?"
"No," Tom answered. "She was diagnosed with depression but she's treating it."
"What type of medication does she take?"
"She treats it with her diet and staying away from non-organic foods."
"Then she doesn't meet our criteria for a search."
What? Tom was shocked. Tanya was missing, had been for two days, and she didn't meet their criteria? He felt panicky as his adrenaline rose. "So, what you are telling me is, unless she's dead you don't care?"
"She's an adult and she can go when and where she wants," the operator said bluntly and without emotion. "And she doesn't have to tell you or anyone."
What? Tom screamed inside. He felt the darker side of his own nature launch a full-scale assault. His insides seethed. Trying to control his temper, he clenched his teeth with unhealthy force. Think before speaking, he told himself, mustering all of his willpower. Do not lose it now, he thought, or you could lose her for good.
"So," Tom said, "what you're saying is that, unless she's dead, you don't care?"
"With no evidence of foul play, I can't start an investigation," said the operator, coolly.
"What criteria?" Tom demanded. "She's missing! This isn't like her! She never misses work and if she was going to leave, she would've taken some money—if not all of it!" As he finished speaking, his internal voice screamed, What in the hell do they pay you for, you moron? But reason prevailed and he swallowed hard, leaving his feelings unsaid.
"She doesn't meet the criteria for a search." The operator told him simply.
The operator's rigidity and lack of concern at once emotionally drained and enraged Tom. He couldn't take it. "How are you going to feel if she dies tomorrow and you could have helped?" Tom blurted out, struggling to push some calm into his voice. "How is that going to fit your criteria?"
"Unless there's evidence of foul play or she's a minor or on medication for a mental disorder, she doesn't meet the criteria for a missing person," the operator said, sounding a little irritated. "She's an adult. She can go where she pleases and we do not have to look for her."
"Arghhh, this can't be happening!" Tom said, as his rage boiled up and over. "What the hell do we have the police for—if not for this? Aren't you supposed to 'protect and serve'? Why the hell is that written on all your f****** cars?" The longer the conversation continued, the more he struggled with himself. This isn't right, He thought. This just isn't right!
Tom needed someone to listen so he looked online for news contacts and called the news tip line at channel 13. The Q13 tip line reporter told Tom that, without a case number, they couldn't run the story. Tom explained that Tanya did not meet the police department's criteria, so the police refused to open a case. The reporter offered to check about the criteria with the Sheriff's office and see what he could do. He said he'd call back.
Maybe I have missed a solution. Can I figure out a way to escape this captivity? If there is a way, I will find it! I will not be a victim!
Is this even real? Is my mind failing me?