Everyone who’s ever read a newspaper, i mean a local or regional one, has run across fun little snippets like this one:
“When Linda Strauss of Harrisburg, PA reached down in between the Bark-o-lounger and the magazine rack, what she found wasn’t her earring, but an ancient map of upstate Pennsylvania. Upon study, experts noted that it was most likely used as a navigational tool; all roads, large and small, were named and tagged using different colors. Further, major bridges, mountain ranges, lakes and rivers were identified, most likely to be used as reference points. Cartographers date the find at 40 years, and in perfectly creased condition.
Mrs. Strauss, 77, told her hairdresser that she hadn’t even touched her husband’s lounger after he died 12 years earlier. “It gave me the creeps to even go near it. Ernest told me to keep my (damn) hands off it, and i did. But this one time i decided to poke around. I had lost one of my mother’s earrings a year before he died and forgot about it until now. When i found that folded up paper there in my one hand, i knew it wasn’t an earring. I knew i was holding something special. Also, i’m sorry for what i did to Ernest.”
As the news spread of her find, antique dealers, collectors and people who needed a map began contacting her. All of them offered Mrs. Strauss startling amounts of cash, but she declined to sell, saying that she decided to donate it to the local historical society.
She plans to transport the “map” as locals have begun to call it, to present it to the society herself. Ironically, she’s unsure of how to get there. Anyone knowing of reliable road directions from her home to that destination, please contact her via email: email@example.com between 9 am and 7 pm Monday through Friday.”
This is the kind of thing that makes reading a newspaper (or a kindle, too, I suppose) so much fun. You just don’t know what’s happening to other people unless you read these locals. Even to people that you might know. You read stories like the one above, and you find yourself thinking that “maybe something like that could happen to me”. Maybe someday your story will hit the papers. You know, the one where you win the $48M Lottery! In the twinkling of an eye, those bastards stick it in the paper; actually, all the papers. They splash the story at the bottom on page 1 of the financial section, with your name as the headline in big, bold Franklin Gothic Heavy font. All caps. Red Ink.
And BANG! just like that, your life has changed forever. Changed in ways that you could never imagine. This is when you truly learn what the phrase “out of the woodwork” means. Family (including relatives that never even show up at the reunions), friends, used-to-be-friends, neighbors and even strangers who just happen to be passing by. You can add lawyers, financial advisors and psychics to the mix, too. Strangely, people want to buy things for you. They want to stop by and give you gifts. You have to shake your head at that one. There’s always one or two who beseech you for money needed to cover the cost of surgery for their kid. Of course, with just a little research, you find that not only do they not have any kids, they’re not allowed to be around kids.
They call. They knock on your door. They somehow find your address and e-mail you, text you, “google” you on the net. You might even find one or two sitting in your car, knowing that you’ll have to go somewhere sometime soon. This all happens at any time of the day or night. Eventually they’ll even figure a way to somehow show up in your dreams at night.
People smile at you as you pass them on the street. Their smiles are just a little more pronounced and their eyes lay on you just a little longer than normal. Things become a little bizarre: are you now paranoid or are people actually training their dogs to seek you out and beg…
Ok. Relax. Don’t worry about any of this. You’ll read 1,000 stories like the one about Linda Strauss and her map and never have to worry about reading anything about you hitting any Lottery. Really. Just kick back, have a cup of coffee and smile at the one about Frank Barnes and his son winning the State Father-and-Son Sack Race 4 years running. I mean, 4 years in a row.