The great thank you card mystery


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By Lori Clinch

Back in the day, one could easily find people’s phone numbers. We simply went to the phone book, rifled through the pages until we found the proper city, then searched for the proper name and voila! We found the information. The address was always there, too, so we could easily make our call, mail our letter and call it a day.

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Better yet, the 411 information service of finding numbers was free so we didn’t even have to go through the pesky task of looking things up.

Some folks had an unlisted number, which always made one wonder what they were hiding from. Did they have a shady past? Unpaid bills? A jilted lover? Darest we think?

Still, you could find a guy who knew the guy and after a wee bit of small talk, he would happily give you the unlisted phone number. It took some creativity, but it was all about being neighborly.

These days, contacting folks is a completely different animal. Should you have their number, you could shoot them a text. If not, you could Google their information, Facebook the fam or simply contact them on Messenger.

Yet, I must say this is not a fail-proof plan. In fact, just recently, when our Charlie was completing his high school graduation thank you cards (I’ll say it sarcastically for you, “Already?”) we needed an address we simply could not locate.

These fine folks were not in the phone book, did not have Facebook and did not reply to our plea on Messenger. Spokeo knew nothing of them, Anywho was oblivious and all other search engines simply denied their existence.

The whole ordeal made me wonder if they knew that the powers of the Internet denied their existence and if so, should they be proud or worried?

Still, we had a thank you card that had to be mailed and we had to do what we had to do.

You show me someone who wonders why I would be worrying about my son’s thank you cards and I’ll show you a woman who is more authoritative, influential and a way better mother than I.

Not being one to give up easily, I decided to rise to the challenge and I shot a text to a gal who always seems to be in the know about long lost addresses. Sadly enough for me and for the last thank you card that needed to be mailed, her knowledge of this particular address fell just short of the curb.

We could have simply paid a website a measly $14.99 per month for the convenience of easily looking up these fine folks’ credit score, background check and household income, but all we needed was a stinking address.

Weeks have passed and these days, with Charlie off at his campus home, far away from his loving mother, he is concerned more about chemistry tests and calculus exams than finding a home for that last lonely thank you note. And although I have more on my proverbial plate than that lovely penned card of gratitude, I feel it simply just has to be mailed.

Recently, it would seem the gods of appreciation were smiling upon us.

“Hey buddy!” I called across a crowded restaurant when the would-be recipient of the thank you card walked past. “I don’t suppose you could write down your address for me?” I did not add “You elusive little bugger, what are you trying to hide?” But I thought about it.

He was so sweet and kind and he penciled his address on a napkin and went about his merry way. I would be flush with relief if it weren’t for one thing. I have no idea where the napkin is.

As of this moment, that card is sitting on the kitchen counter as a reminder that I may not be the best mom around, but I’m not worried. I’ll just take me off of Google and give me an unlisted number.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to

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