Every so often I get an AQ mail or a find report for a new box from an unknown boxer and that person vehemently insists that my letterbox is missing. (I’d say about 2/3 the time, the box is where it should be, and there was user error.) This happens more often when I plant while travelling. I suspect that clue writing – not the puzzles, particularly, but the actual turn by turn directions to get you to the box – is written slightly differently and varies regionally. For instance, I notice a difference in the style of clue writing when I travel across the border to box in Buffalo or Niagara – not better or worse, just different. (Except for the tendency for Buffalonians to refer to any evergreen plant as a “pine”).
I digress, where was I? Well, in other letterboxer territories, I don’t know who the reliable find reports should be coming from. So when I get missing box reports, it’s hard to gauge their reliability. (I think everyone has received a stern message from a new boxer who insists that (a) the box is not where it should be, or (b) that your clue is terribly written. So, some of these messages need to be taken with a grain of salt.) When these are not new, unfound boxes, I usually make a mental note that someone couldn’t find it, but wait until I get better or further confirmation that something is awry (ie. Someone I am familiar with and confident of in their finding of my boxes).
But unfortunately, when I get missing box reports on brand new letterboxes I’ve planted while travelling, this results in a little bit of panic; my boxes are my babies and I worry about them. While I actually expect that my boxes will all disappear in the sands of time and I accept that reality, I only get upset when a box goes missing without a single find on it. But just because some unknown finder says it’s gone does not in fact mean it’s gone.
Case in point: last October, I planted three of my best down in Florida while on vacation: And a Bottle of Rum, Siste Viator: Key West, and Numbers Station. On both Bottle of Rum and Siste, Viator, I received at least two messages each saying that the boxes were missing – and neither had a find yet. Me, on the inside: gutted. There may have been some head slamming on my desk. It’s one thing to get one missing report, but multiple? I had my suspicions when I read the messages that the reports weren’t reliable, but accepted that the boxes were nonetheless gone – or that my clues were really botched.* I really wanted to contribute something nice to the Floridian letterboxing community and brought some nice boxes to plant – all that time and effort wasted.
Then just this past week, I get a find on each. Made. My. Day. They can go missing now ;)
Hoping that any missing box reports you receive are unreliable ;)
*I actually have an great sense of direction – I have the elephant compass in my brain. I can usually plant a box, walk back to my car, and only then start writing down the directions to the box. Even once I’m home and starting the clue, I can add more details, etc. I can go back through my clues at a much later date and fix ambiguity, etc. because I can remember exactly how to get to the box from memory. However, I planted these few boxes while… err… slightly hung over. So my recollection of the details is slim; can’t fix botched clues if they are indeed botched. Don’t drink and plant, folks.