Lost and Found

Despite having spent so much time in London, I still sometimes get lost here. Yesterday, after mixing up the Brompton and Old Brompton Roads (I think), I ended up turned around and walking in circles for 20 minutes. But it’s never stressful to be lost here because I always run into an Underground Station sooner or later, and of course I can speak the language. But life isn’t always so easy. During my brief disorientation yesterday, I recalled a time when I was lost in a big city with no such advantages.

I was in Hyderabad doing some work with orphaned children. The day started with great excitement because our programme was going to be profiled in Life Magazine, which at the time was extraordinarily popular and would therefore bring in the publicity we needed to secure donations. Even better news was that the reporter was Akbar Rhee, an extraordinarily talented and kind man. I had seen him interact with children before — he had a special sweetness to which the young responded — and I knew that as a soft touch for little ones he would write a very positive story.

I went to meet him at what I thought was the appropriate place and he wasn’t there. I then became concerned that I was at the wrong location and walked a bit to orient myself, becoming completely lost in the process. Every turn seemed to lead to another crowded and confusing intersection. Most of the people I asked for help did not speak English, and those that did gave complex and unhelpful directions.

I was increasingly hot, thirsty, distressed and confused. I wondered if I would ever find my way back to my hotel, much less enjoy the chance of conversation with a kindly and influential journalist. Just when I was at the edge of complete despair, I turned a corner and there he was standing right in front of me, smiling with all the considerable warmth of which he was capable!

So naturally I said:

“Sweet Mr. Rhee of Life at Last I’ve Found Thee!!!!”

Yeah, yeah, horrible, I know, but I never signed the Geneva Convention articles that covered puns.

As a reward for those who survived the punchline, here is a lovely rendering of the song:

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

10 thoughts on “Lost and Found”

  1. If it was about ms. Rhee it would have to have been a play on misery rather than mystery … But hey, that would be apt in her case. She’s nothing but a lying grifter who serves her corporate masters tirelessly.

    1. That’s two votes for Michelle Rhee. I guess Ms. Rhee loves company.

  2. The squaws of the hippotamus are equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

  3. You totally had me going.

    My father loved the song from the film where Nelson Eddy plays a Mountie. The title is escaping me just now.

  4. This punch line was used in a collection of jokes edited by Bennett Cerf in the 1950s (which as a kid I spent hours enjoying, though not understanding every joke), using then Korean president Syngman Rhee, or an alleged relative. It does sneak up on you nicely, doesn’ it, especially with the diversion of the opening.

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