It would seem there’s a variation on the “I’ve been arrested and need bail money to pay the police” scam where a purported nearly completely unknown relative reaches out to the only grandparent or aunt or uncle or cousin they know will help.
Now, maybe I wasn’t targeted for this scam, and maybe it was a legit communication. At this point — and perhaps forevermore — I’ll never really know. What’s interesting is that the emails I received were from someone claiming to be a cousin I heard discussed in hushed tones nearly 30 years ago.
Aside from that discussion, until recently, I knew nothing about that cousin or his life.
The first thing that needs to be understood is that I have only met a very small handful of cousins over the years, most of whom I met decades ago and only once. My mother came from an enormous family where nearly all of them married and had children, and those children married and had children, and for the most part, those children are married and many of them have children, too.
My father was one of four boys and they all married and had children, and those children have married and had children, and those children are, for the most part, married and many of them have children as well.
Regardless of which side of the family we’re talking about, both sides of the family have led to a rather substantial number of relatives. In fact, there’s probably enough to populate two large towns without importing strangers at this point to be considered two large towns.
A little over a month ago, someone in the anonymous virtual universe sent me a rather odd message stating he was my first cousin.
I am your first cousin, he stated.
Now proclaiming that we’re first cousins isn’t the odd part of the message because obviously I have quite a few first cousins, and even more first cousins once removed and first cousins twice removed before we even get to any of the second cousin shenanigans. Most people have a hard time figuring out how the family relationship chart works, so I’ll just drop this here to help explain things.
As I was saying, someone in the anonymous virtual universe sent me a message out of the blue stating he was my first cousin. After wondering whether I should respond, I thought I’d take a chance, so I wrote back: How are we related?
I mean, if a complete stranger is going to claim he’s that closely related to me, it shouldn’t be any hardship for him to answer quickly with the correct answer.
A day later, I heard back. He gave me the name of an uncle, and immediately followed that up by saying he had never met me!
He then said he had seen me on television doing an interview which didn’t surprise me because that’s what successful people are known to do. They share news of their ventures and upcoming campaigns and events. In fact, a great many strangers have seen those same interviews. Nothing strange there, right?
But then he felt compelled to tell me he was pursuing a career in the video game industry, and he hoped to be doing production out of LA with his fledgling startup company.
Hold up a minute there? If he’s my first cousin with no removals, and he’s the son of that one uncle he mentioned, he’s from the Silent Generation — the generation BEFORE the Baby Boomers.
You know: Silent Generation (WWII babies), Baby Boomer Generation, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Next, Digital Natives (1995 to 2012), and now Gen Alpha (those born since 2013).
Now, pursuing a career in the video game industry (his words, I swear) isn’t strange but pursuing a career that is populated predominantly by Millennials through to the Digital Natives is a little strange when it’s not a career as voice-over talent or a scriptwriter or something along those lines.
But perhaps he has a few silent partners and he’s the face of the business. Still, those silent partners aren’t going to be Silent Generation silent partners, and for the past decade, the gamification of education hasn’t exactly been raking up the big bucks the way it did back in the Reader Rabbit days.
As for going to LA for production, shouldn’t he consider the locations of the top video gaming companies such as the top 3: Nintendo in Japan, Valve in Washington, Rockstar Games in New York? I mean, if he’s going to go to LA for production, it means he doesn’t live in LA.
Hey, why not try Cary, North Carolina because one of the top 20 video gaming companies is located there and I know for a fact they don’t charge an arm and a leg for a cup of java! You also don’t have to fight to find a parking spot in Cary the way you do in LA.
Anyway, he went on to tell me most of ‘our cousins’ live in the US and he hadn’t seen them in some time. Well, he’s never met me (by his own admission) and I said earlier, I’ve only met a handful of cousins many, many years ago. If he’s holding out a carrot promising to introduce me to some more cousins, that goulash was cooked and served up long ago.
Of course, I had to write back since there was one question — the most important question of them all — this stranger from the anonymous virtual universe had carefully avoided mentioning.
So I asked it for him with my reply. I stated I knew from experience people never reach out to strangers — related or unrelated — without a reason, and I asked him straight out what he was hoping I could do for him?
It’s been several days now since that email was sent to him, and I haven’t heard tickety-boo from him since then. I wonder why that might be?
I also wonder why he insisted on signing his interactions with me with his full name followed by PhD. After all, if you’re contacting a cousin, surely you aren’t going to sign it in such a formal way, noting the fact you have a doctoral degree, are you?