Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Losing the Dean

The Summer Palace was the summer residence of the ancient Chinese emperors. One day when we visited the Summer Palace in Beijing, we lost Hal Knight, our Dean. Dr. Weixing Chen was not with us, since he had been to this monument park many times. It was me, Dr. Rhoton, Dr. Knight, and a beautiful young tour guide who goes by the English name Lillian. One minute, Hal was with us. The next, he had vanished. We scoured the spacious grounds but couldn't find him anywhere.

After an hour, we were panicky. It was time for lunch, but we were not interested in eating. Lillian advocated talking to officials-- maybe the monument park had a loud speaker system on which he could be summoned. Jack and I thought we should keep looking on our own awhile longer, but agreed we would have need help soon. Had Hal been abducted? Could this happen in China? What if we didn't find him? How could I explain to his secretary, and all the other people who work in Hal's office on the third floor? It would be an international incident. Our university would do no more exchanges with China. There would be a job search to find a new Dean.

We reasoned Hal would go to the front of the park once he realized he was separated from our small group. All of a sudden, Hal appeared from the opposite direction. In his own mind, he had never been lost. He was walking the length of the park to explore. Like an eight year old kid who "loses" parents in Disney World, he had had a good time. Hal had even spotted someone eating a Snickers Bar and bought one for lunch.

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