It was one of those dark, dreary days, both in weather and attitude. The kind where the rain pours so hard you can’t see the bottom of your trench coat or your hand in front of your face, and an increasing sense of boredom seems to set into your bones as a heavy weight. I knew what the problem was, and it was more than just the mood; I needed a case to work on. Usually the cases come to you, but sometimes, you have to tighten up your bootstraps and find those who don’t even know they need your help. But where to start?
I wandered down the empty street, save for a few people, rushing to their destinations, feet pattering in the puddles. All was dark and gray, including the corner newspaper stand. It was full up; few copies sold. Discarded nearby was a leaflet, seemingly an insert from one of the papers. It was drenched wet, and nearly shredded in my hands as I picked it up. But I could still make out some of the writing; it was dated last week and said “Now Open: Timber Mill. Visit us at www.tim…” The rest of the URL cut off. It was enough; I was intrigued. Why had I not heard of this new Mill before? I needed to know more.
I turned the corner, found a local, dingy internet cafe and flipped the owner a dime to rent a computer. Without the full URL of the Mill’s website, I logged on to Facebook first, my usual first choice to find information on new businesses, and typed in “Timber Mill”, only to find 100’s of similar matches, none of which were anywhere nearby. My suspicion grew; maybe the leaflet and “Timber Mill” was merely a front for something more, just another grifter or sham operation? I continued my search on Google next and there it was, on the third page; a listing for Timber Mill’s website. They were new, just opened outside of town, and seemed legitimate. But their website lacked any links to social media platforms, and I had already failed to find them on Facebook. Was it merely an oversight or was it a clue to something more? Something more sinister?
I found a phone number to contact on their site and did a cold call. The owner answered with a grumble, and he sounded sadder than the weather felt. Turns out his new grand opening pancake luncheon celebration hadn’t gone as planned; no one had showed up! I asked why he wasn’t on social media, and he thought it wasn’t necessary and too complicated for someone like him, who wasn’t tech savvy at all, to figure out. He said he’d already blown too much of his online marketing budget on his fancy website to consider even looking into anything else. I told him I would show him how to fix it all up in a jiffy.
I signed him up for DIYA, and then showed him how to use their Toolkit to learn about social media. He was happy to try anything at that point to get things to turn his way, and was very excited to learn that a membership to DIYA was low-cost and time-saving. He said he wished he had known about it earlier; he could have used it to make his own website instead of hiring a designer and blowing his budget there.
A few weeks later, I got a ding in my Facebook inbox; it was a sticker of an oddly humanoid yellow creature waving. The overture was from the Mill owner; he’d signed up for Facebook and other social media and was already seeing an increase in customers as well as publicity. He was thankful and invited me to check out the Mill anytime I wanted to witness the magic of his lumber yard and paper mill in action. I was thinking of a way to politely decline, when another ding; an email, subject line “HELP ME!” Just goes to show you, an Assistant’s job is never really done.
This case might be closed, but there’s always another who needs my help.