There’s nothing I love more than a mystery!
Last Friday night at the PNE, I found a camera under a table – a small point n’ shoot in a camera bag with an extra SD card. I held onto it as we sat, hoping the owner would come rushing back as they realized their camera had been left behind (losing things is made of suck). By the time Ed finished his plate of perogies the camera was still unclaimed, so I started digging through the case in the hopes I’d find a name or phone number on it. Finding nothing on the bag, I turned the camera on to look at the last couple of photos; thinking that maybe I’d find a face we could then search the crowd for. There were a few portraits, so Ed and I set about to look for people in some specific clothes. We wandered around (we had nothing else to do; we were waiting for friends to arrive), but didn’t see anyone resembling the people in the picture (which was to be expected given that we were at the PNE and it was full of people who all looked alike when you stare at them for long enough). I took another look at the camera data to refresh my memory, which is when I realized that the people we were looking for were standing in front of a water slide .. and there were no water slides at the PNE. We were looking for people in clothing they were probably not wearing in a place that was at some point in the past. Also, by this time more than an hour had passed since I found the camera. I thought about turning it into the Lost n’ Found, as it was the sensical thing to do .. but that was no guarantee that the camera would reach home, and common sense has never really been my thing.
So, I brought the camera home so I could do some more research. I felt pretty creepy as I was going through the photos, but I really wanted to find the camera’s owner – especially after I realized the SD card contained almost 1100 photos; most of them of family vacations. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any identifying information: all I learned was that the family had been to some really cool places, and that it’s really fucking weird to see someone else’s vacation photos of a place you’ve also been to (in this instance, San Francisco).
I was about to give up – looking through 1100 photos belonging to someone else on a tiny LCD is not an officially sanctioned Good Time – when I stumbled upon something that could be useful: graduation photos, taken this year. Aha! I From those pictures and some fast Google work, I found three things:
- An acronym
- A tribe name
- A picture of a presentation with a name on it
The acronym turned out to be the name of a high school in northern BC, and the tribe brought back two hits: a small town in Alaska, and a tribal community in BC relatively close to the school. These things turned out to be more helpful than the name, which was the equivalent of “David Wilson” – it was very common, and impossible to wade through the thousands of results a search returned.
I did try, though. I looked through all the David Wilsons on Facebook, which was when I discovered that there are people out there who totally don’t use the internet – nothing I searched for was of any help. No Facebook, no Twitter, no blog, no public profile that I could sniff out anywhere at all. During all this, I also checked Craigslist multiple times a day to see if anyone had posted about losing a camera at the PNE; all to no avail. I don’t know how people live like this, but the proof was on my living room table: a camera with two years of family memories, and no way to give it back.
However, I am nothing if not persistent when something is bugging me. With nowhere else to turn, I located a website associated with the tribe and sent an email off to info@ explaining who I was looking for and why. I didn’t really expect a response – some random girl in Vancouver asking if you know someone who knows this person who might live near you maybe – but my wild stab in the dark was good. The person who answered my email knew of whom I was looking for, and gave me his grandmother’s phone number. SUCCESS!
This meant I was going to have to pick up the phone, but my need to see this through overrode my loathing of the phone and strangers. I called the number and left a rambling message explaining myself and asked that someone call me back. Last night, an elderly lady called me and confirmed that her son had been at the PNE on Friday and lost his camera filled with family vacation and graduation photos. She gave me his address, and today I will be shipping the camera off to the man who lost it. HOORAY! I SOLVED A MYSTERY!
Seriously, HOW do people live their lives not at all on the internet for all to find? I don’t get it, but I am pleased that my persistence and general nosiness paid off for the greater good.
I’m like a slutty Nancy Drew!
5 thoughts on “nancy drew and the case of the people who don’t use the internet”
I don’t remember Nancy Drew ever doing something so useful though. Which makes you better than Nancy Drew, really.
Mind you, I DO think there was an Encyclopedia Brown where he was super condescending about the need to make regular backups after finding someone’s flash drive. That might have been my Twitter though.
This? This is why I love my job. This is what I do EVERY DAY and it’s awesome.
Wow! I know a lot of people who wouldn’t even have gone to the trouble of turning it in to the lost and found and yet you do the heroic thing and reunite a person with their lost camera & irreplaceable photos. Well done!
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