'Lindsey, is this a joke?'
I've lived in North Dakota all my life and take some pride in having heard of virtually every town and hamlet. Years ago, a co-worker who moved here from Wisconsin was writing about Lt. Gov. Ruth Meiers. She asked me, "Where is Ross, N.D.?" When ...
I've lived in North Dakota all my life and take some pride in having heard of virtually every town and hamlet.
Years ago, a co-worker who moved here from Wisconsin was writing about Lt. Gov. Ruth Meiers. She asked me, "Where is Ross, N.D.?" When I answered, "seven miles west of Stanley," which didn't seem unhelpful, she was clearly irritated. OK, OK, about an hour's drive west of Minot.
So it was a mystery when an e-mail arrived last week from a computer wallpaper and screen savers outfit touting an image of fireworks going off in "Grand Falls, N.D."
"Hello Janell, I thought you might be interested in this local story featuring Grand Falls, N.D. See where Screensavers.com, 'the pop-culture pulse taker' ranked Grand Falls. Please contact me if you would like to have a 10 minute phone talk with General Manager of Screensavers.com later this week. Will Thursday or Friday work for you? Sincerely, Lindsey Rarick, Media Contact, Screensavers.com."
I could have replied, "Dear Lindsey, How about never? Is never good for you?"
Or I could have ignored her or politely asked if perhaps she was mixed up amongst Great Falls, Mont.; Grand Forks, N.D., Grand Rapids, N.D., etc.
I went with, "Lindsey, is this a joke? There is no 'Grand Falls, N.D.'"
Lindsey clearly took me for an idiot. Instead of checking her Rand McNally-oh, wait, that's the map outfit that 15 years ago left off North Dakota-OK, make that checking her generic atlas, she smugly replied, "Hi Janell, This is not a joke. If you do a Google search for Grand Falls, N.D., you will find that there are 3 pages of search results. I have listed some below."
Hmm. This woman clearly has no self-esteem problem. Lindsey Rarick, apparently sitting in an office in Encino, Calif., is convinced she has better information about North Dakota than a North Dakotan.
Sure enough, her Google results for "Grand Falls, ND" have plenty of hits. Not surprisingly, the first is this: "Grand Falls, ND Wallpaper, Click Here, ... Home : Small Town USA : Grand Falls, ND, Click here to tell a friend about FREE Screensavers. ... "
OK, Lindsey's No. 1 authoritative source is her own misguided employer.
These results are with quote marks around "Grand Falls, N.D.," in your search request, and the list does indeed show a shocking number of references to such a fictional place, in everything from online obituaries to far-flung softball and curling tournament results.
Plus a sports fitness company that shows it has a dealer, Scheels All Sports, in Grand Falls, N.D. The same company says another Scheels in "Bismerck," N.D., sells its products.
Proving nothing more than that there are lots of other folks just as careless and misinformed as Lindsey. We can safely assume they probably mean Grand Forks.
Without quote marks around Grand Falls, N.D., in your search request, Google finds what may be another root to all this misinformation. Second among the hits is a Web page for a World War I memorial at "Grand Falls-Windsor, n.d."
It's in Newfoundland, Canada. For some reason the war site abbreviates the province as "n.d.," though most other sources show the abbreviation as "n.f.," "NL" and "NflD." There is also a Grand Falls, N.B., in the nearby province of New Brunswick, perhaps another clue.
Maybe folks in the real city of Grand Forks, N.D., (or, Grand Cities, as they prefer these days to collectively refer to themselves and East Grand Forks) run into this "Grand Falls" mistake all the time.
Nope, says the woman answering the phone at the Grand Forks CVB, "I've never heard it before."
Cole is The Forum's Capitol correspondent in Bismarck. She can be reached at email@example.com