Tuesday, November 23, 2010


So you know those people who have absolutely no problem inviting themselves places? Like Aunt Marge, who hears you and your mates organising a weekend pub crawl and mentions she'll pencil it in after bridge? Or Merve from accounting who you said 'hi' to in the lift, and suddenly he's joining you and your girlfriends for a spa weekend. Some are a little weird, some kinda scary and most just super friendly...maybe overly friendly.
As self-inviters go I reckon James West pretty much takes the title.
The gist of the story is this dude, Mr West, started receiving email from random people, most with the last name Tran and, assuming it was spam, he ignored it for two whole years. Then sometime earlier this year, curiosity got the best of him and he opened a few of the emails todiscover they were meant for another James West, a relative of the Trans. Turns out email-stalking is a bit like Pringles - once you pop you can't stop - and his addiction led him to the revelation that the Trans were planning a great family Thanksgiving.

So now Mr West is on a virtual crusade to find the Trans before Thanksgiving so he can attend their family dinner. He's read all the emails, learnt about their likes and dislikes, know what each memeber is bringing to dinner and is even taking something himself - the canned corn! The only problem is, he's not officially invited. So he's set up this Youtube video to Track Down the Trans:

And he's keeping the public updated at new (or new emails in this case) comes to hand - you can check out the second vid here. He's also stated that if he doesn't hear from them tomorrow he's going to email them, and may well jump on a plane to Florida anyway and see if he can track them down for dinner - canned corn in hand of course.
The comments on youtube aren't overly kind. Many are suggesting he should have emailed the family immediately and set them straight on his identity, most are labeling him as some kind of creepy stalker, which West himself acknowledges is a resonable assumption. I must admit, I tended to agree at first. But then I started thinking about it. Here's this guy who suddenly starts getting random emails from people who he doesn't know from a bar of soap and he manages to ignore them for two years. I know there's no way I would have held out for that long. I know I would have also read at least a couple before deciding whether to set the record straight too. And in all honesty, (and here's the biggie), is this worse than facebook stalking which many of us won't admit to but I'm pretty sure all of us do?
The emails came to his inbox addressed to him by name, which gives him much more right to read them than we have to scroll through messages sent from a friend to their sister or brother, or trawling through strangers photos. Sure, he probably should have just shot an email back letting them know they had the wrong person, and he probably took it a bit too far, but at least he has the guts to admit it - to the whole world even.
Putting the issue of stalking aside, the thing I love most about this is that West has taken a situation that could well have been done and dusted with a simple return email and turned it into an epic adventure. From a case of mistaken identity he's created an opportunity to travel to the other side of the world and make a whole bunch of new friends.
I think it's kinda cool. What about you? Creepy stalker or crazy Adventurer?

1 comment:

  1. This is extremely worriesome! I don't agree that all of us would continue to read other people's mail and not all of us stalk on facebook either. Some of us have respect for the rights of others to reveal or not to us. Why is it that no one seems concerned about the family harming James as a response to his invasion and also making their details public?