The Steve Mystery
I argued with myself about posting this because I initially felt like I was exploiting someone, but I've come out on the side of it being mysterious, amusing and not really hurting either sender or sendee. However I have removed most of the details that would let you track down the person yourself.
About two weeks ago I received a card in a sealed envelope through my door. It had no stamp or address, but it was address to: The Charming Blond Lady, with the naughty black dog.
As a male with considerably less than a quarter of their hair blond, who lives alone apart from a cat, this was a confusing way to be addressed. My neirbours on either side are a middle-aged Glaswegian couple with a dog called Snowy (read white) and an old Italian grandmother with a ginger cat.
It would have been impossible not to satisfy my curiosity. Inside was a card with this front cover:
We’ll get back to the possible significance of the choice of cover in a minute. First let’s look at the inside. I have covered some details for modesty:
The missing details are his first his street (very near to mine) and his number. I think this card is wonderful, a Tinder message of an earlier time.
Now, I don't have a phone, but it didn't seem right to text Steve even if I had. However all my initial google searches with combinations of his name, both as Steve and Stephen, his street and his number failed.
So I did what I always do when I'm stuck; I posed it to one of my classes for their suggestions. Calls to try to start the process of adding him on Snapchat (where apparently you can see their profile picture or name before you actually send the request) didn't work. We discussed the card itself and it was thought that it was probably an older person because it showed a man asleep in the garden. On inspection the back of the card showed it was from the Blue Cross which seemed to support that idea.
And then we hit a stump for ages. We didn't really have a way in. I tried asking the only blond friend of mine who had been round recently, but she knew nothing and had a white dog rather than a black one. One theory was that he knew that his intended target had lived somewhere nearby, but had sent the card to lots of the houses in the area.
I also couldn't get it out of my mind that it could be from my friend Lily with whom I often trade letters and they sometimes take the form of puzzles. Matching it against her writing mostly ruled it out, but I wasn't sure.
Then, on a staff night out, my colleagues made two separate breakthroughs. I presented the Steve Mystery to them at the pub and there were lots of theories bouncing around. Eventually we decided to take the plunge and text the number on one of their phones, explaining that he had got the wrong house.
Come the morning of the staff development day I had two members of staff get in touch with me with follow up. Firstly, one had had more luck googling than me and had found the only Steve on the Electoral Roll on that street. We had a surname and an age bracket of 60-64. My students’ guess had been right. His address was behind a paywall which I was unwilling to pay, but it is crazy how much you can find out about someone with a first name and a street name.
Secondly we had had a response to the text from the night before. Steve said (to paraphrase) “he had a niggling feeling that he had got the wrong house. Did I want him to come and collect the card or alternatively I could just bin it?” We replied that we would do the latter and he replied to say “Fine, thanks.”
I feel I have some closure on an issue which has been at the back of my mind for a while now. Well done to my colleagues superior google-fu and good luck to Steve in finding his Charming Blond Lady.