Thursday, April 23, 2009

13. In memory of Karen? (unedited)

There's a woman I know, met several years ago, her name is Karen.

Karen and I are not great friends. Quite honestly we're not friends. We got to know each other, but we're not friends. We don't call each other, don't e-mail back and forth, and until a little over a year ago, we had pretty much ceased all contact with each other. Then she sent me an e-mail out of the blue, and we chatted a bit. Then a year went by without any contact between us. Then a few weeks ago I received an e-mail from her.

This afternoon I received an e-mail from Karen's old e-mail address. It didn't say who it was from, but it sounded like it came from a parent. (She lives with her parents, which sounds pathetic, but she helps take care of her ailing father, which is a big sacrifice to make.) The e-mail informed me that Karen had died in a car accident the night before. I was shocked.

I haven't seen Karen in years, and I had been meaning to e-mail her for about a week, as I needed to clear something up from our recent e-mail exchanges. I sent a reply to the e-mail, offering my condolences.

A few hours later I received an e-mail from Karen's primary e-mail account. Her old account had been hacked, and the hacker sent that message out to everybody in her old address book.

As far as hoaxes go, it was well executed.

But even me, a guy who likes to post profanity on a message forum and irritate people who are too stupid to think critically, didn't find there to be humor in the hoax. Sure, it was a relief to learn she was alive, but for a few hours my life was dogged by the thought of having lost somebody I have known for years. Not a relative, not a close friend, but someone I just had contact with a week ago.

Karen is a bit shaken by all of this. I'm usually good at sniffing out internet bullshit, but this one was unlike anything I had seen before, and as I said, well executed. The message was completely believable.

There are a lot of lousy people in this world. Karen is not one of them, not even close. The fact somebody would do this to her is all the more perplexing.

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