Let us start with money.
As readers of this column will recall, I posted a cyber link to unclaimed property (mostly from dormant bank accounts) in California.
I found several million dollars, owed to everyone from the Alberta Government to the City of Red Deer to famous celebrities such as Bob Hope and Henry Winkler. I even found many people named Summers who had money coming.
My wife said it was a pity that we did not know some of the Beverly Hills Summers for they might give us a reward.
“Splendid idea,” I said. “I am going acquaint myself with some of our cousins.”
“I don’t think you should do that,” said my wife. “People in Beverly Hills have accountants and lawyers who handle their finances, especially escheated funds.”
“Escheated what?” I asked.
“Escheated. Money or property the state holds from dormant bank accounts.”
It didn’t take me long to find the home of Mrs. and Mrs. Timothy C. Summers of Beverly Hills.
It was a quaint little place with a six car garage and maids’ quarters about the size of a Holiday Inn.
I knocked on the door and it was answered by a butler. I gave him my card and said I was in the neighborhood to see my cousins with some wonderful news.
The butler examined my card, peered at my old Honda on the circular driveway and closed the door in my face, it had a locking mechanism that made a loud thunk.
While I waited in the hot sun, I watched half a dozen happy laborers working on the various flower and herb gardens scattered about the estate.
There was a whirring sound and I looked up and saw a television camera move in one of the palms trees. It looked like a metal monkey with a big eye. It saw me at the same time I saw it; we stared uneasily at each other.
A discombobulated woman’s voice, originating in the oregano herb garden, asked me who I was. She identified herself as Mrs. Summers.
“I’m Cousin Summers from Edmonton. From the mining side of the family,” I said, trying to put her at ease.
“And how did you find us, Cousin Summers?”
“On the internet,” I said. “I’m here to give you some escheated money.”
“Money?” The oregano voice became a degree warmer.
“The money is owed to you. It’s been gathering interest over the last sixteen years.”
“Leave it on the doorstep.”
“You have to file some papers – I could show you how. You have a computer, don’t you?”
“Let me see if I have this right, Cousin,” said the voice from another herb garden, this time the mint patch. “You want access to our computer room so we can collect, uh, how much?”
“There’s $2400,” I said. “I’ll be happy to show you how you can get it and help the other Summers families in Beverly Hills access their unclaimed wealth at the state controller’s office.”
I heard someone say, “the idiot just told us where our money is. Release the dogs!”
I raced to my car as a pair of snaring German Shepherds galloped toward me.
Later that day I found several hundred dollars for a resident of Edmonton. I phoned him and he said – great, I’m going to give you half of it. “No I,” I said, “just buy me lunch and we’ll call it square.”
And that, Dear Reader, is one of the many subtle differences between California and Alberta.