We've all done it. Hit our heads against the wall, usually brick. Of course we haven't done this literally -- or at least I hope not -- rather more figuratively. Well, that's what I spent the better part of Saturday morning doing -- hitting my head against the brick wall. And what happens after you've hit your head against the wall? It usually hurts -- and right now mine does. Actually I feel like it's spinning. A couple of Advil would be really nice right now.
So, what's got my head spinning? Trying to reach people for possible articles. And having nothing but their names and the general area they live in to go by. The end result was one dead end after another and another...
Did you ever see that movie with Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts? I cannot remember the name of it, but their characters are competing journalists and in one scene Roberts' character is going through the phone book trying to find anyone that may be related to the person in an article she's doing.
Believe me, in the past 10 years, I've done that many a time. Either trying to find a relative or the actual person I need to talk to. And, if the person has a last name that's common to the area, well, it just makes the task that much harder.
There were three people I was trying to get in touch with on Saturday -- one, according to the 411 Operator, wasn't listed in the phone book and of the people I called I couldn't find anyone who was either related to or just by chance knew them.
Ditto for the other two people; one who had a common name, the other I started off thinking - 'ok, how common could this be?' Well, it may have not been as common as some other names, but there were still a good many people listed. There goes the head against the wall. Can you hear it?
I actually thought I had hit pay dirt with one of the people I was trying to reach. Some people I had asked suggested I ask "so-and-so", reasoning she might know. I did phone her and, low and behold, the person was her neighbor! I was so excited I was practically leaping out of my chair. But... it was not meant to be. My bubble was burst. Yes, her neighbor's name was that of the person I was looking for, but she wasn't actually the person I needed. She just happened to have the same name.
"Sorry, it's not me," she said, probably hearing the disappointment in my voice.
"Oh, you're kidding," I moaned.
It was back to the drawing board, but really there was nothing else I could do. I had dialed all the people with the last name who lived within the Octorara area. And, as I said before, I was just reaching one dead end after another and another and another...
The only thing that was making my head feel any bit better about all this was knowing that I had tried in all earnest and in good faith to reach these people. Now I could only hope that I would get lucky in the end and maybe one of the messages I left with people would end up with the right person and they, in turn, would contact me.
Short of bulldozing my way through the proverbial wall of dead ends, that was the miracle I needed.
Jennifer Savage is Post Ledger editor.