If you can stand another story about my basement-purging project, I swear it’s worthwhile. No, I won’t talk about the woman who drove for 50 minutes just to come and get a free raised toilet seat for her 89-year-old father. And I won’t go into great detail about the lady who emailed me after she got home from a pick-up to ask, “Is there someone in your neighbourhood that has a pig as a pet? Thought I was going crazy…” (For the record: Yes.)
But I would like to tell you about the guy who came to pick up a box of old tapes. Music-wise, I’ve gone digital, so I posted on our local Freecycle listserv that I was giving away a “…box of about 80 audiocassette albums. They haven’t been played in a few years, so current quality is unknown, but they’ve been well stored. Many, many artists/titles. Examples include: Blue Rodeo, Cat Stevens, Cowboy Junkies, Crowded House, David Bowie, Elton John, Enya, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Harry Connick Jr., John Lennon, Kate Bush, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Police/Sting, R.E.M., Sarah McLachlan, Smiths, TV/Movie soundtracks from the 80s/90s, compilations, etc., etc…”
I swiftly received a response: “Hi……… Yes, I would love these audio cassettes. There are many titles I love, and as I do a lot of driving, these would be great for me.” I was happy for my collection to go into someone’s tape deck instead of the garbage. So I emailed him back with our address.
As we corresponded, it didn’t escape my notice that his name, not a particularly common one, was the same as one of my husband’s favourite authors. I dismissed it as coincidence.
He confirmed that he’d come the next day. That morning, we exchanged a few words as he (who turned out to be sixtysomething and white-haired) hefted the box from our front stoop and carried it over to his car. Just as he was about to leave, the man turned back to me and called out: “I’ll tell you what, look for me on Amazon. Pick your favourite book, and I’ll send you a signed copy.”
“Are you serious?” I asked. “Are you really — —–, the author? That’s you?” I couldn’t believe it. “My husband has all your books!” He smiled modestly – or possibly a little tentatively. “Go on Amazon, pick the one you like best, and I’ll sign it for you,” he reiterated.
“But – you’re not kidding me? You’re really — —–?” I persisted. “You wouldn’t be having me on, would you? Listen, if I grab your book right now, would you be willing to sign it for my husband?” The guy nodded (again, perhaps a little hesitantly) and came back towards the house, while I fetched four or five novels from our living-room bookshelf. I thought about how thrilled hubby would be. I thrust the stack at the author, along with a pen. He looked down, and that’s when realization dawned.
“Oh, that’s a different — —–,” he said. “See, he spells his last name differently. Mine is spelled this way.”
“It did surprise me when you said you had all my books,” he admitted.
I melted into laughter as soon as I closed the door. Turns out he’s not a multi-award-winning novelist and playwright but, rather, self-publishes short stories and detective novels. Not that I’m not intrigued – I may in fact take him up on his offer. Because, after all, you never know where one good turn will lead.