During my 34 years at the Beacon Journal, I have received more than my share of weird mail. But a piece of snail mail that showed up last week has to be in the Top 10.
It arrived addressed to “Mr. Lyn Smith, Mechanic, c/o Bob Dyer.” There was no return address, nor was there any indication inside who sent it.
The envelope contained two items: a plastic card and a brief note. The note asked me to pass the card along to Smith. The card: a $500 gift certificate to Giant Eagle.
What triggered this flash of generosity was, and remains, a complete mystery.
The column wasn't the least bit heartrending. It was essentially a rant about the growing tendency of engineers to overdesign products to the detriment of functionality.
And Smith is a nationally recognized forensic mechanic who testifies in court cases involving highway crashes. Indigent he is not.
The column was not exactly hot off the presses, either. It was published 64 days before I opened the envelope.
Smith and I wondered whether the card was legit or someone was goofing on us.
“I'm suspicious,” he wrote in returning my email about it. “I've never won anything but a plastic apron when I was 6. I was too embarrassed to go up on stage and get it.”
Although that story cried out for at a follow-up question or two, I decided all of us might be better off not knowing.
Anyway ... once I handed over the card, Smith took it to a Giant Eagle and discovered it was the real deal. Someone bought it at a store in Brook Park on — get this — Jan. 20, 2016.
Being the cool guy that he is, Smith elected to pass his unexpected bonanza along to people who need it more. He hooked up with Leanne Graham, president and CEO of the Victim Assistance Program, who plans to break it into smaller cards to use as the group sees fit.
So if you're out there, mystery donor, Smith is both flummoxed and grateful.
Controversy has been raging on the Facebook page of the Garfield High School Alumni. The old building is being torn down, and seemingly half the graduates are dying to get ahold of a souvenir brick.
The posts about how and when to get a brick run on for miles. My favorite was this one, from Russell McCune:
“Class of '90, I don't understand this 'need' for a freaking brick. What possible value can there be? Didn't you get a yearbook full of pictures? Or 4? It will just be one more useless thing for your kids to have to throw out when you die.
“I understand a shirt or button, but just a common worthless brick just doesn't make any sense to worry about, to me! I get 95 notifications and it's all crap about when or if someone can come get a brick without getting in trouble.
“Go to Home Depot,buy a brick, write 'garf*** memorial' on it with a Sharpie, and start selling them on eBay. Bet you don't get rich.”
Signs of the times
From Akron resident Doug Meredith:
“There are two road signs on North Main Street as you enter Akron from Cuyahoga Falls. Put together, the signs would appear to be a good slogan for Akron.
“Sign 1: Welcome to Akron.
“Sign 2: Road Closed Ahead.”
From Tim Roy of Springfield Township:
“I see there is going to be new housing in Akron on the corner of North and Howard streets. The name of the new development tells certain people that they need not apply.
“NO HO housing makes it very clear. I wonder if the ACLU has looked at this.”
On Sunday I urged Summit Countians to sign up for a free service called Reverse Alert, which sends out text messages, voicemails and emails when tornadoes and other serious weather conditions rear their ugly heads.
After readers complained to me that the service was difficult to join, I contacted the Emergency Management Agency, which said it also had gotten complaints and would talk with its vendor and try to smooth things out.
A day later, Director Tommy Smoot wrote: “We now have a Summit County Emergency Alerts group for all Summit County residents to choose from in step #3. All residents will have this group selected as the default option, which should streamline the process.”
If you had trouble last time and want to try again, the website is: reversealert.net
And if you couldn't care less, say hi to Dorothy for me when you get to Oz.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31