Some of the best stories are ‘found’

Benjamin Dashley writes Distant First for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the paper or The Daily.

On Oct. 17, 2011, Found Magazine posted a note found in Muncie. 

The note is angry. The writer’s bike had been stolen and he took it back, leaving this note behind. Ryan C., who took the bike, submitted the letter and it was posted. Both the letter and the story behind it are hilarious. 

But I bet the bike’s owner thought differently.

Ever realize a note went to the wrong person? Maybe you put it in the wrong locker or the intended reader just never received it. Or maybe the reader thought the note was funny and showed everyone.

Found Magazine is the wrong locker; it’s the person who laughs at your note. It’s one place online where all the secrets written in that note are on display. 

The website was founded by Davy Rothbart and Jason Bitner in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

The idea, according to the website, came from a note Rothbart found on his windshield in 2000. 

“Mario, I f--king hate you you said you had to work then whys your car HERE at HER Place?? You’re a f--king LIAR. I hate you I f--king hate you. 


PS Page me later”

Obviously, Rothbart isn’t Mario. I’m sure he’s glad for that. 

After he found the note, he showed his friends. Each one had their own example of a note like Amber’s. 

In September, Rothbart released a book called “My Heart is an Idiot.” In celebration of the book, Found’s 10th anniversary, a new issue of the printed edition and a new album from Rothbart’s brother Peter, the Rothbart brothers have set out on a tour. 

The stops are in bars, community theaters, libraries and colleges with admission ranging from $5 to $35. But Wednesday’s stop at Pruis Hall is free. Whether this was a decision by Ball State or the Rothbart brothers, I have no idea. But I am grateful.

I’ve spent quite a few hours on Found Magazine’s website. I’m fascinated by what people will write when they don’t know anyone will see it. 

It’s not a site I check religiously, but I’ll read it when I can sort through my RSS feeds. Occasionally, a post comes across my Tumblr feed and I end up spending the little free time I have reading notes from strangers. 

It’s more than just seeing what people wrote. I usually spend up to a few minutes on a post, not because I’m a slow reader, but because I try to get into the mind of the person who wrote it or the intended receiver. 

I know I wrote a plethora of terrible love letters in middle school. I was almost too awkward to function in society. I professed my love in print rather than in conversation. 

I would be mortified if anyone saw those. I was careful to never let anyone but my oft-changing love interest see the notes, so I doubt the Rothbart brothers have ever posted anything to embarrass me. 

But that’s not their goal, at least as far as I can tell. I’m certain their goal is just to make people think. 

There’s never just one side of a story and if journalism classes have taught me anything, there’s often more than two. 

Just ask Ryan C., if he’s still around. The comments on his post called him a thief, taking the side of the original owner of the bike. 

Sometimes, the best stories aren’t written by J.K. Rowling or J.D. Salinger. Sometimes, they’re written by Amber in an angry note to Mario.


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