I guess it’s not so surprising, really. There are lots of Teresas now. (When I was growing up in the ’60s, when everything was funky and groovy, they were all turned into Terrys or Teris or Terries, which I thought was ratty.) There are a fair number of Meeks, too. So why shouldn’t there be another woman about my age with my name, spelled the same way–Teresa with no h and Meek with no s on the end?
There’s only one of me, Bigfoot has spent a lifetime telling people who try to call him Meeks. But in a way, that’s not true. There are two of us in this household alone.
And more in Texas, where the other Teresa Meek lives.
One Teresa Meek in Palestine, Texas and another in Kauai, Hawaii. What are the chances we would ever meet? Probably zero, before the Internet Age.
It was Yahoo that brought us together. A glitch in the system somehow allowed us both to use the same email address. We never got mail from each other, but we both started getting mail from people trying to email us.
I was selling Hawaii real estate, and the Texas Teresa started getting listing brochures and questions from my clients. She was selling Avon, and some of her valued customers doubtless ended up in my junk mail. I had no idea anything was amiss, but it went on for several weeks, and it happened at a time when Bigfoot and I were planning a trip to all the places in the Hawaiian Islands that we hadn’t yet seen before we embarked on our big move to Seattle.
Hotel reservation confirmations from all over Hawaii started pouring in–to the other Teresa. Boat tours, rental car receipts, plane tickets. Not to mention all the luxury home photos for my real estate business. I must have appeared quite the jet-setter. My name and photo were all over the internet, as they are for all realtors, and so was my phone number.
And one day I got a most unusual call. A lady with a deep Texas twang. She was hesitant, surprised that someone as busy as she thought I was answered her own phone.
As she talked to me in her soft, polite southern tones, I tried to stay calm, but I couldn’t believe the emails she was getting. I didn’t see how it could happen. Then, the truth suddenly struck both of us, but my mind still balked. The same email address?! How is that even possible?
It shouldn’t be, but it had happened.
I don’t remember how that first conversation ended, but I was stunned. And the more I thought about it, the worse it got.
The other Teresa had been using the address for years when Yahoo somehow allowed me to sign up for it. I signed up because I needed a web-based account to do business from the mainland. I had already sent out several batch emails to make sure all my 1000-+ clients knew about it and nobody would try to contact me at my old Hawaii email address, which wouldn’t function after I left. Now what? I started to panic.
Contacting Yahoo proved useless. Not only do they have no phone support, they don’t really offer online help either, unless you call referring people to a forum help. Nobody in the forum seemed to have a problem like mine. I was on my own.
There was only one solution I could see: I had to try to buy the address from the other Teresa.
It was rightfully hers–she’d had it for years. Any change should be paid for by me. But she used the address for her customers too. Why would she give it up just because Yahoo screwed up and gave it to some realtor in Hawaii?
I wondered what I should offer. The address meant a great deal to me, but we’d shot a lot of our wad on our farewell tour and moving expenses.
I dialled the Texas number with a base offer in mind, figuring we would bargain, like in real estate.
But there was no counteroffer. My offer to buy the address was flat-out rejected.
Instead, she gave it to me for free. Insisted on it. Wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Have you ever tried to argue with a Texan offering hospitality? That’s when their longhorns come out. No use trying to wrassle with them, you won’t win.
I felt guilty. She had to change her address and notify all of her customers just as I had done, but I did it because I wanted to, and she was doing it because somebody–me–had hijacked her account.
I couldn’t repay her, but I did become an occasional Avon customer.
In the confusing months after the address change, she continued to get a few emails from my clients, and forwarded them on. We chatted on the phone and learned a little more about each other.
In addition to selling Avon, Teresa works fulltime at Walmart. Her husband Chester works at a Walmart warehouse. They’ve been with the company for over 20 years. They have a big extended family with grown kids and grandkids–lots of grandkids.
Once, around the time Facebook was getting into hot water about its use of photo tagging, one of the little grandbabies appeared on my Facebook page, up at the top, right under my own photo. So did a Google Sketch of Teresa’s house. To the many Facebook “friends” who don’t know me, I was a young mother with a cozy home in Texas.
Eventually, the other Teresa and I became Facebook friends ourselves. Now I get to see all the cute grandkid pictures. She sees Bigfoot’s photos of Puget Sound.
Though more than three years have passed, our relationship probably would have remained on Facebook had not fate intervened again in the form of an Alaskan cruise Teresa and her husband saved up for and were finally ready to take.
It left out of Seattle.
Of course, we had to meet. Teresa and Chester would have a two-day stay in the city after the cruise and before their flight back to Texas. She called me and asked about hotels near the port.
Cruise ship, hotels? I was preoccupied with finishing the final phase of a year-long technical writing and editing program at the University of Washington, and my mind initially drew a blank. I made a mental note to call her back, then forgot about it. By the time I did call back, they had already booked. In the meantime, I had talked to Bigfoot, and we had agreed they could stay in our guest room, but it was too late. At least their hotel was centrally located, unlike our house.
I graduated and started picking up more freelance work, but my schedule was now my own. Bigfoot and I would have at least one free day to spend with the other Meeks.
I realized that despite all the email exchanges and Facebook pictures, we really knew very little about each other. What would our time together be like? What would we do? Would we even get along?