22 January 2016

Calling All 'Wellingtons'

Joe's inscription in the book he gave me in San Francisco 1998

The 2015/2016 phonebook came out a few months ago in Wellington. A friend sent me a photo of the names under Wellington. Two I'd called before and was met with no answer.

During the holidays, I put all writing about my search on hold. Until today.

Welcome to the first Joe Wellington post of 2016!

Thumbing through the W's, ticking off with my index finger the 'J Wellington' options, I tap the numbers into my phone. Not nearly as anxious this time than my last attempt at calling.

A man answers with a strong Kiwi accent.

"Is this Wellington?" I sputter.


"Is this surname Wellington?" I try again, thinking maybe I dialled wrong.

"Are you looking for Jeanette?"

"Oh, sorry. No, I'm actually looking for a Joe."


"Yes, Jay-Oh-Ee." Spelling it out may help?

The man gets quiet, surely confused. "There's no Joe Wellington here."

"Ok, sorry to bother. Thank you!"

I feel like an absolute idiot. This is silly. Why continue on with this? I've met heaps of other people in my travels who I've connected with and then lost touch. Why bother with this particular one? If I've not found him yet, I won't. Perhaps he doesn't want to be found, as some people have mentioned.

Joe "Wellington" in San Francisco 1998

Yet, I'm determined. Because it's a really great story. He was such a good person when I knew him briefly in 1998. I considered him a friend. And now I'm in New Zealand, where I never even dreamed of being. It's a pretty damn good story.

On Twitter, I interacted with a lady with surname 'Wellington' living here in Wellington. I sent her a tweet asking if she knows a 'Joe Wellington'. Guess where that got me? Nowhere. Another dead end.

For nearly three years now I've written about my search. Safe to assume his last name just isn't Wellington, so how will I find him?

I ring another 'J Wellington' listed in Eastbourne.

"Jerry Wellington," he answers. His accent thick, for a split second I thought he said, "Joe".

"Hello, I'm looking for a Joe Wellington." Saying the name aloud is very strange. I've been writing about this person for so long now that he seems fictional.

"Joe Wellington... I don't know of any Joe Wellington's. Sorry." Quite a pleasant man.

"Ok, thank you. Sorry to bother."

I guess I'll just have to continue searching.