It’s amazing just who is looking for who.
I thought when I started out running my website it would just be some old service people looking up old pals or some friends who had lost touch because one of them had moved without telling anybody.
I used to do a lot of work just using the computer to find the people being sought but not the customers. Every week there is a Teletext list on TV with messages from people looking for others who on the whole do not run PCs and just leave a message asking that the person calls them. I used to phone them up after I had checked if I could help them, and offer them the same service that I offer my current clients online.
Since most of these people did not have PCs it took longer through the post and on the phone and consequently I did not get through the same number of people. I have had to give them all up and it is unfair to all those people who were almost all so very genuine.
Remember almost a half of the population are still without PCs. These people are frequently old and unlikely to take the plunge onto the Internet which would so readily find their missing loved ones.
For that reason there is nothing that annoys me more than messages I sometimes get of a frivolous nature that have to be answered regardless of the time wasted.They are the ones that often refer to “some girl I met last summer in the Canaries who cames from Liverpool called Lucy but Im sorry I dont remember her surname.”
At the other end of the scale I just love the really serious people I meet like a severly disabled person from a car crash who was finally working again after a long time and who so wanted to meet a member of the medical staff who had given him the chance to live again.
Romances do play a big part in the world of searching but you have to be careful you are not helping someone to pester someone else who doesn’t want to be found. If for instance a person wont give their full postal address and phone number I turn them down at once as they are always suspect.
As it happens at least ten per cent of enquirers give a faulty reply email address and there is nothing you can do unless you can phone or write to them so it is really essential to have everyone’s identity.
The people I have met on the Internet over the past 4 years have been a wonderful education and I will never forget one Japanese girl who was searching for her previous British boyfriend from the time when he had visited Japan. She was so polite and in thanks for the service she sent me a little perfumed mouse and a case for my glasses.
The funny thing was it was just what I needed but how did she know I wore glasses. The mouse was to remind me of the cherry orchards of her country and to revive me at the end of the day, I still have the odd sniff.
One very memorable searcher was a German living in the SE wine area of his country who wanted to locate a British woman whom he had met during a long stay in Canada. I shall call him Heinz and her Margaret, who also had been over there for a good while.
He had gone on to marry a Canadian girl and eventually they came back to live in Germany and raised a family but he knew he had another child from Margaret whom he had known first and had never seen.
I was immediately extra interested in this case as the UK address he gave for Margaret was only 5 miles down the road from here in the Medway towns.
I had never had an important enquiry so near to home before and when I could not find a Margaret living at that address on the Internet only another women with the same family name, I suggested to Heinz he gave me a letter to this person to take round asking what had happened to her.
If only one had the time and opportunity to meet more of ones contacts from the Internet it would be wonderful, but never would it be possible for this service be a personal enquiry agency business owing to my advancing years and doing it all on a shoestring on the net.
This letter came addressed to Margaret and so I took it round to this old cottage with a big garden and there was an old lady with a nice smile mowing her grass. Not surprisingly when I explained about the letter she got really serious and said it was her daughter Heinz was looking for and Margaret was terminally ill in a nearby hospital with a brain tumour.
She said she would give the letter to her grandaughter if she wanted it but they didn’t really want to open up the past.
Well I was so happy to learn soon afterwards that Heinz’s daughter had been over the moon about the letter and she herself had already tried to find out unsuccesfully about the father she had never seen .
She was married with three children and they have already all been to Germany to meet their new grandfather. In fact in a few short months they all visited each other. It was so sad Margaret would never have known about all this and how Heinz was really a good man through and through.
Last Christmas we had two parcels here at home from Heinz. Enough chocolate to last a long time and two bottles of wine which amazingly survived the journey. Soon I am going to meet Heinz on his next trip to the UK.
I never asked for anyone to send me anything and it just happened.
He is not the first friend I have made from Germany which is important to me, otherwise the bad experience I had from my first wife who was also German could be affecting the way I deal with another country.
Why is my service different to most of the others and at the same time very effective?
Mainly because it is operated like a chat area by someone who has had personal experience of the downside of life.
There is no random leaving of messages for others to pick up by chance and there is nothing for you to do for yourself except to provide me with accurate information. This is put into whatever data base there is for a given country and I tell you straight away what the chances are of finding the person you are searching for.
If you are under 18 or sick or disabled or in any emergency I do not ask for any running costs whatsoever and in any case they are kept as low as possible and are not increased if you wish to find up to three people at once.
The more unusual a name, the easier it is to find someone if they are there and it is essential for you to tell me as much as possible and especially any middle names. If it is a lady you need to know if this is a maiden or married name.
It can also often help a great deal if you know the name of any marriage partner and some other relatives and specially the last time you were in touch and which area this was.
Please remember that noone under the age of 18 is listed on the Internet and quite often not before they are 20 . All in all it is far better to give me too much information than too little and just leave me to sort it out as this is a truly personal service. I don’t mind looking for people up to the 90s in case they are still alive as I am no spring chicken myself and to find an older person is often very satisfying.
Occasionally if you have a common name you are left with a list of several possibilities all over the country and there is no other way of refining the search.
You simply have to write and phone to each one and check it out by the process of elimination. So long as that person is alive and well and in the expected country they will be there in the end and my job is to stay online for as long as it takes to give you full support and advice.
I never contact the sought after person myself unless specifically asked to do so or in certain cases where it is necessary to confirm that this person is willing to be traced if my suspicions are aroused about something.
I can have the obligation to do that under the Data Protection Act.
So who is looking for who?
Sadly there are many people in todays so called society who do not know where their parents are, or where their children are and this often ends in further problems even when they are found, as to whether they want to accept the new situation. In some delicate situations I am willing to write to someone myself as a third party to assist the unification.
All part of the service.
Its not just a case of people losing addresses as I already said and there are so many reasons why a search is required.
Often in the past brothers and sisters fall out and this leaves the next generation having no knowledge of half their relatives.
There are special sites for those who were adopted and if its not where I can help I usually know a man who can. Another case that crops up fairly often is that there are surprises in store for an anniversary, and a son and daughter will want to locate people who were at their parents wedding including of course bridesmaids and the best man.
Children of old service veterans like myself often want to surprise their family by bringing in someone from their past for a birthday or other celebration.
Those who were evacuated during the war as children are trying to find others who shared the same experience with them and what about all the folk who emigrated to the Commonwealth after the war who were close relatives and they have never been seen since. Suddenly people are aware that we can find them too.
And what of the expats who went overseas all those years ago ? they are now wondering what happened to so and so whom they went to school with, and even their childhood sweethearts who are probably grans by now.
They just want to know they are OK.
Well I am lucky enough to have a number of old friends from my childhood still around so I can relate to them too. The world is getting smaller and more and more people are keeping in touch.
In the past I spent 20 years working in travel agencies in London and with this work now in my retirement, I am doing much the same thing as I did then, by putting people in touch with each other and making the world a smaller but happier place.