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September 23rd, 2004

The Mystery of the Found Keys

After I checked my PO box on Monday evening, I noticed a pair of keys laying on a counter as I was leaving the post office. I picked them up and went to the post office’s “call window” and rung the bell. The place had closed up shop for the day about five minutes earlier, but I could still hear plenty of people on the other side. I figured they wouldn’t mind if I just turned in a pair of keys to them; after all, I wasn’t asking them to mail something for me or do any actual work. But they ignored the bell. Pretty much like they do during the day, actually.

So, I took the keys home with me with a mystery in front of me. Would I be able to find out who they belonged to? Fortunately, there were two clues on the keys that helped me out. One, the guy’s name. There was a small tag that said “Eric V*****.” I hoped that would make the search easier. I hopped on Google and Anywho, but only turned up one matching name in Virginia and that was in Hampton. It could be him, but the name seemed common enough that it seemed more likely to me he had an unlisted number.

The second clue was a Blockbuster Rental Card. So after renting 47 softcore porn videos, I called up the customer service number on the back of the card and spoke to a representative. “I’ve found these keys… and the only thing on them that might help is this Blockbuster card. I have what I think is the guy’s name, too, if that helps.” Apparently, the operators are ready to handle this type of situation because she took my name and number, called the number on the card’s account, and left a message telling him that I had his keys. The operator didn’t even flinch at my request.

The next night, I got a call from Eric. “I got a message that someone there found my keys?” he said.

“Yeah. In the Sterling Post Office.”

“Oh yeah?” was his odd response.

“Yeah… does that… sound right?” I asked him.

“I guess. Can you send them to me?”

And so he gave me his address and only a very mild “thank you.” He seemed pretty underwhelmed that I had taken the time to hunt him down. I mean, I’m not looking for a kiss on the lips as a thank you, but I thought I’d get more than I did.

That’s the story of the Found Keys. Feel free to use it as a bedtime story.

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday September 23, 2004 -- 9:48:33 am
Extravagant and completely unfounded theory following...

Those were actually his wife's keys. Unfortunately for her (and him), she is supposed to be in CA on a business trip. Actually, she is shacking up in Sterling with her boss. He has had suspicions for a while - but the keys were the sledgehammer that just brought it all into focus.

You think you may have helped him - but you actually just ruined his life as he can no longer pretend everything is all right.

Of course, I could be totally wrong :)

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday September 23, 2004 -- 10:43:17 am
Good theory, Chris! Though the keys did have *his* name on them...

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Thursday September 23, 2004 -- 2:14:54 pm
I found an old suitcase in a parking lot that had some clothes and about 40 Atari cartridges in it. There also was an airport ID tag on the suitcase that listed an out of state address. However, I found the suitcase very near a college campus, so I figured it belonged to a student. I called the number and mom answered. Her son did indeed attend the college, was still in town and she gave me his number. I called him and he came over. I expected a college kid to come by but this middle aged guy showed up. It turned out that it was him, but he had graduated from the college about twenty years ago, went to law school and was now an attorney. I asked him for an ID and at least the name was right. He opened the suitcase and just stared at the video games and shrugged his shoulders. He asked me where I found the suitcase and I told him. He said that his apartment had been robbed when he was a student and the suitcase must have been stolen, too. As for the games and the clothes, he didn't know whose they were. He put the suitcase in his bag and left. Because his mother was rather long winded, I got stuck with a $2 long distance charge and no "Thank you."

FROM: aharris
DATE: Thursday September 23, 2004 -- 3:24:31 pm
Joseph, that is the weirdest story I've ever heard! So what the heck was the suitcase (still?) doing there? That is truly bizarre.

Maybe someone robbed him 20 years ago and passed the stolen suitcase down to their kid...who also went to that school...?

very bizarre.

FROM: jk
DATE: Thursday September 23, 2004 -- 9:40:10 pm
Hmm, I may be going way off topic here, but a member of PSU's 1986 National Championship football team was contacted by someone asking him why he was selling his ring on e-bay. It had been lost or stolen many years ago, and someone ultimately decided to sell it! He did get it back, to the best of my knowledge.

FROM: jk
DATE: Thursday September 23, 2004 -- 9:43:55 pm
Wait--I think I can one-up myself here: last year I googled my last name and found military documents that had been awarded to my German grandfather as a result of his service in WWI.

He was a member of the Hohenzollern and highly decorated. When the Russians invaded their village in 1945, the documents and medals were all stolen. My brother and I paid $900 to buy the documents for my father, and the guy who was selling them said it was a one in a million chance that we, the heirs, found the items and were able to close the circle. You should have seen how I freaked out when I saw the photos of the documents...I am glad my brother has $ for such things because it would have been so very wrong for anyone else to own these documents.

FROM: cate
DATE: Friday September 24, 2004 -- 6:04:28 pm
back to the found keys thing - I think that Eric may have seemed underwhelmed, but he was actually *over*whelmed, nonplussed, befuddled, confounded, even, that someone, a perfect stranger would take the time to stalk him... I mean, track him down in this day and age (can't believe I used that phrase, think I just aged 70 years) when most people can't even be bothered to let me get over into the next lane even though I've had my turn signal on for the last half-mile.

I can only assume that once Eric ended the phone call, he sat at his kitchen table, weeping openly into his domestic lite beer until his wife returned from her business trip in CA, when she announced that she was leaving him for their dentist (which was a bizarre twist, because Eric was sure that she was sleeping with her boss) then he was weeping again, but it wasn't the same.

In any case, on behalf of Eric and losers of keys everywhere, and for those about to rock - I salute you

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Monday September 27, 2004 -- 12:47:04 pm

I was never let in on the mystery. I'm assuming that somebody stole the suitcase, emptied it of its contents and then used it for their own purposes without ever having removed the tags. As for the games and clothing--they probably belonged to the thief or whoever inherited the suitcase. How they ended up in a parking lot? There was a dumpster nearby--maybe it fell out. Or, perhaps, somebody loaded games stolen from elsewhere into the stolen suitcase with the intention of trading the games and suitcase for crack. Why the suitcase was abandoned where it was abandoned may have more to do with imminent danger to the holder. Perhaps the police or an enemy arrived on the scene, or perhaps it was simply stolen again. Given that I found the suitcase in, gosh, maybe 1992 or 1993, the Atari games may not have even been worth a crack rock, so entire case was abandoned.

In the end, it sounds like a movie premise, where you follow a stolen item around until its returned to its original owner. We all want to know what the story of that darned suitcase is.

FROM: aharris
DATE: Monday September 27, 2004 -- 3:33:55 pm
Were people smoking crack in the 70s? I'll admit I'm not a crack expert but I have seen "Blow". Either way, whoever got the crack got giped b/c Atari rules.

However if they do make a movie of this story...I want Angela Basset to play me: the interested listener at the beginning. Think Princess Bride.

...I always through Andre the Giant was on crack...

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Monday September 27, 2004 -- 4:32:59 pm
I don't think crack was around in the seventies--but that's when the suitcase was originally stolen. I found it in the nineties, when there was crack, but apparently no one would trade crack for some old video games--at least, that's my theory. Whatever the contents of the suitcase in the seventies (which were not the video games) that probably got traded for weed or pcp, maybe heroine--which was popular both in the seventies and the nineties (and now, I guess, if I'm to believe the newspaper). In New Orleans, however, where this was, it probably all got traded not for drugs, but for spicy crawfish and beer.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Monday September 27, 2004 -- 4:38:20 pm
By the way, no one in New Orleans would trade some old Atari games for spicy crawfish and beer (preferably Abita)--which is why the games stayed in the suitcase, worthless. You gotta come up with something better than that to trade for spicy crawfish and beer. A lot of times money isn't even good enough--no matter how much. I've more than heard that women have compromised their morals for spicy crawfish and beer (particularly for ice cold draught Abita). In fact, that's why I used to host crawfish boils when I lived there. Whoooey! : D

DATE: Tuesday September 28, 2004 -- 3:35:49 pm
Whenever I think of Abita [Dog] I think of that Simpsons ep where they make Dog Tick beer and someone goes "Needs more dog..." ha!

You know...we better be careful or this ping will go into dumb ass mode.

...what was this ping originally about...?

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Tuesday September 28, 2004 -- 9:48:06 pm
Abita isn't a dog--it's a

FROM: aharris
DATE: Wednesday September 29, 2004 -- 3:41:47 pm
I know. Abita Dog and Turbo Dog. But it has "dog" in the title which I always thought was strange for a beer...;)

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Wednesday September 29, 2004 -- 6:23:44 pm
AFAIK, there is no plain Abita Dog--but there is Turbo Dog--very nice, one of my favorite beers. The also make a wheat, an amber, something called Purple Haze (which has a perfumey taste) and seasonal brews--the best of which is the Bock, which should be out right now. They've also got a light Christmas Brew.

The name Turbo Dog has an interesting history. But I don't remember what it is : (

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday October 5, 2004 -- 12:08:50 pm
So here's an update: the keys came back to me because of an "invalid location." The dude gave me the wrong address. Unreal (I had read it back to him, so I know I'm not at fault here).

Now what? I guess I've gotta call Blockbuster and leave him another message through them.

Maybe this time his punk ass will thank me.

FROM: cate
DATE: Tuesday October 5, 2004 -- 1:28:48 pm
obviously - he was *so* overwhelmed by you returning them, he couldn't even think straight enough to give you his correct address. He's probably been in therapy since... Or else, it's actually his evil twin who spoke with you and only moments before he had killed Erik to assume his identity, so he hadn't had time to memorize the address yet.

What is this then?

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