Monday, January 23, 2006

Spotting a trainspotter

Before we had geeks and nerds, the British had "trainspotters" -- harmless weirdos who enjoyed standing by the tracks to log passing trains by time and number, then collecting, cataloging, and endlessly discussing their findings.

The term "trainspotter" eventually came to be a more general British term for a harmless weirdo.

Today I received an email from the American female version of a trainspotter. She and I will be attending the same writing conference back East this spring and she'd gotten my name from a conference organizer. Her paragraph-long email contained the information that she is also from the Seattle area, doesn't really have any experience in the field the conference deals with, is wondering what sort of clothing attendees would be wearing, is so worried about getting there on time that she is planning to fly in a day early, and wanted to if know had I made my travel arrangements yet. Hint, hint.

What a flaccid way to present yourself to a total stranger: As an adult who has no idea what to wear to a little conference and worries about being late to something in which she plays no signficant role. I was sure I sensed a bulky, gelatinous, self-piting leech preparing to glom onto me at check-in and maintain a smothering death-grip throughout the three-day conference.

A small voice inside me suggested that I was being harsh and uncharitable. I shut it up quickly by Googling the woman (she has an unusual, and particularly frumpy, name). Sure enough, she's a treasure hunter, one of those nut cases who runs around with a metal detector at the beach.

All together now: EEEEEEK! I can only hope they capture her at airport security.


  1. Anonymous9:33 AM

    I so just wanted to post a comment from "the frumpy name" with a strongly worded indignant tirade.

    But I couldn't bring myself to do so.

  2. Anonymous8:56 AM

    Re: "Sure enough, she's a treasure hunter, one of those nut cases who runs around with a metal detector at the beach.

    So far this summer I have found $9,000 in gold jewelry metal detecting local beaches. A woman I know has found 2 diamond rings worth north of $20,000 at the NJ shore. Another guy I know found a 3 carat platinum ring last month in Florida worth $18,000.

    When the storms kick up the surf starting in October the sea will remove several feet of sand exposing gold and silver jewelry and coins dating back to the 1600's.

    What, did you think we spend our time out there looking for dimes and quarters? LOL


  3. So...a small percentage of people who pursue this odd hobby become wealthy doing it. OK...

    You did, I assume, report this income to the IRS?