When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them “I read minds”. This is not far from the truth.
The case of the Chedidi’s* stands out in this regard.
In about 2007, the international investment company I worked for gave me an assignment to find a couple named Jack and Lily Chedidi* who were owners of unclaimed property in the US. Their last known address was in London. My only responsibility was to return the phone number of the couple or their next of kin, leaving the business end of things to the investment company.
Easy enough. I searched the UK phone books on www.numberway.com, to discover there was only one listing for a Chedidi in the UK. So I called him. Unfortunately, he knew nothing about Jack and Lily. Rats!
Since the property was in the US, I searched the US white pages and public record websites for Chedidi. There were three, and even though they were never listed all together at the same time, pairs of Chedidi’s shared either a phone number or an address with each other at one time. I figured that they must be relatives.
But alas! All the phone numbers were either disconnected or belonged to a non-Chedidi. Doing a Google search, however, I found a work number for a Chedidi who owned a computer company in Arlington, VA. I dialed the number. A young man answered the phone.
“Speaking,” he replied.
I told him my name and that I was searching for Jack and Lily Chedidi. Would that be his family?
“I don’t talk about my family,” he replied. I was stunned.
“Oh, I am sorry to disturb you,” I said. “It’s just that your name is so unusual that I thought you might be related.”
“It’s not unusual where I come from,” he said. “But I don’t talk about my family.”
“Have a good day, ” I said. A bit rattled, I hung up. I had exhausted all my Chedidi’s. Now what?
“Hmmm,” I thought to myself. “Not unusual where I come from… I wondered where he comes from?”
So I Googled Chedidi to find it is a common name in Lebanon. Back to www.numberway.com for a lookup in the Lebanese phone book.
Bingo. There was only one Jack Chedidi listed in the book. I got my self together and took a deep breath, not knowing what a phone call to Lebanon would be like.
I dialed the number, mentally tuning my mind to French, just in case. I don’t speak Arabic, so nothing could be done about that. No problem with English.
“Hello,” a woman answered.
[Strategy kicked in here]. “May I speak to Lily?”, I said in English, figuring that if I could identify her as part of a Jack and Lily combination, I’d have it.
“Speaking,” she said.
I explained that I was calling because there was property in the US that someone wanted to speak to them about. Then I rang off. I turned the Chedidi phone number into the investment company and that was it.
As the say in Arabic “قطعة من كعكة” – a piece of cake!