by Liza Ezhevskaya of LizardArtWorks

Listening to our answering machine messages, I come across the recording of an older woman talking in a tight, concerned tone…

“Hi, it’s me. Listen, I was thinking, maybe we should give it another try. You know, just try again, maybe? Please call me back. Give me a call, okay? Please?”

She must have dialed the wrong number and the androgynous standard greeting on our phone didn’t tip her off. I scan through the call log and deduce her phone number. I call her. She answers:

– Hello?
– Hello m’am. My name is Anya. I just wanted to let you know that yesterday you called my phone and left a message…
– What? What do you mean?
– You left a message on my cell phone, the number is (485) 487-3876, you probably dialed the number by mistake and left a message about…
– Oh yes, I understand…
– Yeah. I just wanted to tell you that I got it. Which means…that probably the other person didn’t…
(She still seems a bit confused. Flustered, I continue…)
…which means you may want to check that number and call them again…
– Oh, ok. Thank you.

* * *

A while ago I came across this website, http://www.unclaimed.org. It links you to State Assessor websites where you can search to see if the state you live in (or lived in) is holding money that belongs to you, ie. unpaid insurance claims, last payment installments, etc. I was hooked.

I searched first my family, all of them, in all of the states where we lived. Found a last payment waiting my husband in California (since then we’ve contacted the assessor and got the payment). Then searched family friends – found some more money waiting for some of them. Then searched co-workers. Found a HUGE sum waiting one, joyously burst into his cubicle and announced, “You have $1200 waiting for you at the assessor’s office!” But it didn’t stop there.

Think about it: literally billions of dollars of unclaimed funds, waiting for their rightful owners, and the rightful owners not knowing that there is cash for them several forms away. Some of my family members’ last names are pretty common, and for one, Nayerman, there was actually several other “Nayermans” in California that also had money unclaimed. I had to do something. So, at the end of last year, I wrote letters.

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Nayerman,
Recently I was doing a search to see if some of my family members had unclaimed funds. I searched for my grandpa’s last name (Nayerman) and though he didn’t have anything, I noticed that you did. I wanted to let you know, in case you didn’t already. I am attaching a print-out of your info from the official assessor’s website so that you can be assured it’s legitimate. I hope this comes as a pleasant surprise on the eve of the holiday season!

All my best,
Anya”

A couple of months later I checked up on my couple from California. Their record said: Funds claimed.

Score.

* * *

Sometimes I have to go to work really early, sometimes in the dead of night, escorting and interpreting for Russian engineers doing work for the International Space Station program. We worked out a system with my employer where the same driver that picks up these Russian specialists drives by the McDonalds next to our apartment complex and picks me up too. The driver’s name is Kevin. The story goes like this:

So I’m waiting for Kevin to pick me up at McDonald’s. It’s around 5am. He’s running late and so I call him on my cell and leave a message: “Hi Kevin. This is Anya. I am waiting for you at the McDonald’s, as planned, it’s almost 5:10am and you’re not here…Please give me a call. Thanks!”

Eventually I end up walking and he doesn’t mention the message the following day when he picks me up again. He drops me and the specialists off and tells me to call him once we’re done, so that he can drive them back to the hotel. Three hours later, we’re done and I call. Another message: “Hi Kevin. Well, we’re done here in Building 20, really enjoyed those breakfast burritos – thank you! We’re ready for you to pick us up…”

There minutes later I get a text message from Kevin: “You are contacting the wrong person”. Turns out, it was a different Kevin.

* * *

Car note left on our wind shield: “AWESOME PARKING!!!” with a pen-drawn sketch of the “Right way to park”, with the wheels facing straight into the parking spot, and “Wrong way to park” with the car diagonally wedged into the rectangular parking spot, wheels creating an imaginary hypotenuse between the opposite corners of the lot (the way we had parked).

* * *

Car Note left on a gray Ford Mustang: “I was backing out and accidentally grazed your car. I am sorry! Our car is insured – please call me at (***) ***-**** and we’ll figure out how to cover your damages (if there are any). Again, I apologize.”

There is damage. I find this out when the owner calls me the next day and says he only noticed the damage when he went to open the door and it was jammed. At the end of the conversation he says, “And I just want to tell you that I really, really appreciate that you left that note. Most people would have just driven away…” I reply, “Well, I just did what I hope someone else would do for me…” “Yeah,” he says, “me too”…

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