Being the Definitive Collection of Works by Allison Holt


(Much like the author)

The Kindness Of Strangers

Posted in on September 1, 2009

For the past year or so, I’ve been getting emails from various gaming sites telling me I’ve signed up for accounts with them. Funny, thinks I, I don’t recall signing up to play games on (for example) Cartoon Network’s site. Every few weeks, and sometimes more frequently, I get notification from some site with details about some account I didn’t sign up for using one of my many Gmail accounts. These sites are always gaming-related, and they almost always seem as if they’re geared toward boys between the ages of twelve and fifteen.

I’ll admit that this ongoing situation confused me — surely this person, presumably some other 12-to-15-year-old Allen Holt, would A) know his own email address and B) realize that he wasn’t getting any email from any of these accounts he was signing up for? One site, okay, sure — either you put your address in wrong or you that site’s mail setup is busted or something else kept you from getting email. But there were many of these sites this kid had signed up for, so, um, wha?

A couple of times I tried logging into these accounts — after all, I had the login information for them, so maybe I could use that info to find out who this kid who thought he had my email address was and ask him (very nicely, of course) to cut it out. But no luck. There was never any information I could use to identify the kid (which is actually a Very Good Thing, I feel, for sites geared toward younger users).

So the occasional random gaming accounts continue to appear in my inbox.

Then yesterday I received an email — again to that same Gmail account — from a teacher in Utah addressed to the parents of her new class of kids, talking about how happy she was with their progress so far this year. Luckily for me she didn’t BCC the address list: I looked through all of the addresses she sent the email to and found the name, at long last, of the boy who’s been unknowingly tormenting me for the last year (where “tormenting” equals “occasionally spamming my inbox.”)

Now I had my in.

I sent an email to his teacher explaining the situation and requesting that she tell the kid that my email address wasn’t his and asking if he would please kindly stop using it. She wrote back and told me she would, and also told me that he’s a really good kid and surely didn’t mean any harm — which I’d already gathered, of course, given the sites he was registering with, but it was still nice to hear that my email account wasn’t being used by a little douchebag.

This morning, she wrote back and finally answered the question I’d had all along: the kid’s mother has an email address one letter off from mine, and he’d either been mistyping it or just had it wrong all this time. Knowing that it was his mom’s address made the whole thing make much more sense to me. His teacher said she’d talked to both parent and child and everything should be copacetic now.

So thank you, Becky Ivory of Murray, Utah, for gracefully handling what surely must have seemed a bizarre request from a complete stranger on the other side of the country. You easily could have ignored my email or been less than friendly in your reply (assuming I was some kind of stalkery weirdo), but you did neither. I sincerely appreciate your help, and best of luck with your students — especially the clearly ones addicted to online video games.

Allison Holt spends her days wrestling with code and her nights wrestling with her amazing wife, three fantastic children and her big goofy rescue dog. You can find her at any of the social media links below, or you can email her at

All wrestling referred to in the previous paragraph is metaphorical.