It's happened to every parent -- you turn around for half a second and your beloved child has disappeared.
Often a quick look around the area and you're reunited. A quick hug, maybe a brief scolding, and your life is back to normal.
But for that moment, your heart stops.
Last fall, we decided our big "let's make it better" project would be Lost Parents (the children always know where they are ... it's the parents who aren't in the right place).
What we came up with is the Phone Find system. So many people carry cell phones nowadays, we thought offering a wristband for children to wear--on which we'd write the family's cell phone number--would work well.
And it does.
(Please note, this doesn't work if you don't actually have your cell phone with you. One dad was all fired up about getting a Phone Find wristband for his little girl ... until it suddenly hit him that his mobile phone was back home.)
Our next challenge was how to spread the word. We could add it to our website and put a blurb on the Show Guide. But how to get it front of everyone's face at a time they might actually read it?
Enter ... Potty Prose!
These stickers are located in the restrooms in areas where reading materials are often appreciated.
Here's a story from our controller, Matt, who has two little girls of his own:
Remembering the many children we have "reunited" with their lost parents, there is usually one that stands out in our minds, that leaves a special feeling in our hearts that lets us know that we have done our proverbial good deed for the day.
For me, it was a five-year-old girl.
This particular little girl was extremely concerned that her parents had left her behind. She thought they hadn't noticed that she was missing and had unknowingly left her at the park.
She was terribly worried, and asked at least 500 times what we were going to do.
She never broke down in tears, but came close, and continued to try to come up with a game plan to handle her abandonment.
I repeatedly assured her that we would indeed find her family, and she would be going home with them that very night. We walked around for quite some time, looking at every possible place that she thought that they might be.
She held my hand so tightly I grew concerned about loss of circulation. But I decided not to say anything; she clearly had more important worries.
After about 30 minutes, we managed to locate her mother (her parents had split up to search for her). As expected, her mother was frantic, sick with worry, yet extremely happy that her little angel had been found.
Her mother was very gracious and thanked me as she hugged her daughter. My job was done, I wished them a good evening and started to walk away.
My little friend then grabbed my hand, looked me in the eye and solemnly declared, "Thank you, mister. You saved my life."