Friday, November 08, 2013

Need that party RSVP tracked down? I'm your woman.

(A disclaimer: all names of friends below have been changed. This post is part of a series of coincidence-related posts that I've written. For related stories, read: this one, these two, this one, this one, or this other one, and a flashback one.)

Rosie will be turning 11 next week and we're planning her party. She gave me her guest list and I sent out the Evite, like a good mom/party planner. There was one guest that I've had trouble reaching in the past, so I felt determined to make sure I had the right contact information for her this time! Rosie had requested play dates with "Emily" in the past and her mom, "Cheryl," didn't respond to emails; also, to add to my frustration, their phone number listed in the school directory didn't have voicemail and nobody's ever answered calls I've made to it.

Rosie had visited Emily's house only once before, six months ago, and it was a pretty odd situation: a precociously professional 10-year-old Emily had phoned me to give the time, address, and other details necessary for the play date. When I dropped Rosie off, nobody answered the door or the phone, but several girls including Emily were playing in the yard. I had errands to run, so I left Rosie to play with the (possibly feral) girls. When I returned to pick Rosie up, the girls were in the street, running around or on scooters. No one was harmed, but I never did see a single parent.

On the trail.

Next steps: I checked the cc line in Rosie's classroom email that went out to all parents at the beginning of the school year. You'd think that would be accurate, right? The email did list Cheryl with the email addy that I have, but the ID gave a last name different from Emily's: a clue! I did a quick search on Facebook for mutual friends with kids in Rosie's grade to see if "Cheryl Jones" was in any Facebook circles. Facebook was a bust.

As an Internet search for anyone named Jones would obviously be fruitless, my next tactic was to Google that email address. Nothing. I get TONS of hits with my email address, so, kind of shocking, right? By a bizarre coincidence, that morning I had taken a phone-photo of the school directory to get the contact info for one of Dash's friends, with an "L" last name; Emily's last name starts with "M" so her details were on the same page. I googled their street address and managed a few hits.

Closing in...

There was an LLC business license registered with that address in 2003, with Cheryl listed as the CEO. I did a search on the business name "ABC Associates, LLC" and got several random hits with similarly named businesses across the United States. I narrowed it down to Virginia-only and found a LinkedIn profile with the correct business name, and someone named Cheryl, but her last name was "James." An honest mistake by the teacher? Maybe.

A quick recap: so far, I've had one wrong phone number and two wrong last names for this person. Should I give up? Nope, I clicked over to her LinkedIn profile.

Found her, complete with freaky coincidences!

I quickly scrolled down the profile to see that the details on the LLC were accurate to the online registry. Yep. I scrolled up slowly, curious to see where she'd job-hopped since then. When I got to the top it took a double-take before I realized that Cheryl James and I work for the same tiny, little 100-employee company. Seriously. I've been arm's length from the person that I haven't been able to contact for months. We have actually emailed each other on work projects!

I pulled up my company's intranet and found her email address and phone number, completely different from any other that I had before. I called the number listed for her. She answered.


After establishing that I was a colleague, I ventured into the odd coincidences that our girls were not only in the same school, but the same grade and in the same class. When we exchanged work details, it turns out that she is working on the same contract that my old company used to have (and I worked), in a location that I worked in 2010. She's on site with people that I used to work with. I think we were both a little baffled by it all and the fact that as far as I know, we have never met.

I'll meet her at Rosie's party.

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