By Scott Ryan

There’s no telling what awaits me when I call someone.  While many of the conversations are routine, some do stand out.

In the search for one particular female classmate, I wound up talking with a man who explained how his wife had been dead for seven years.  I apologized profusely.  I felt terrible.

There’s no way I can be 100 percent sure of someone’s circumstance ahead of time.  I didn’t really know this classmate in high school.  But I listened as her husband calmly gave me the details of her lengthy illness.  I was looking for an out.

And then I got one–but not the one I was expecting.

He casually mentioned that he was retired–and then it dawned on me:  I had been talking to the wrong person for nearly ten minutes.  Right name, but the wrong person.  Hey, it happens.

But there are times when it’s not a good idea to ask for too many details.  Sometimes I can tell where someone works based on an email, especially if it’s a school or government agency.

If someone’s hard to find I might call a friend, a sibling, or a parent to help.  I don’t want to pry into your loved one’s business, but if he or she has an interesting job I might ask about it.  Well, that was the plan until recently.

I listened as a proud parent talked about his son’s job.  I was impressed, especially since the field he worked in sounded like something I’d be interested in.  And as I was about to ask for more details, I learned that if he told me exactly what his son did for a living–he might have to track me down and cut my heart out.

A little unnerving, but at least no one had to die.  And if you’re curious about that first call, I eventually did find the right person, alive and well about an hour from her childhood home.

*About this blog:  Scott is a 1988 graduate of Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, Va. and is blogging about his experience ahead of his 25th high school reunion in 2013.  You can contact Scott at 248-945-9950 or via email at  Please put “The Reunion Project” in the subject line.


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