I have traveled more than the average American. I have been to states like Idaho and South Dakota, places nobody goes except for funerals, and even then they try and make sure something comes up that would preclude the trip. (I was there for work.)
I've been to Oregon and Alabama and Missouri, Nebraska (with my family) and Iowa (for sex) and Delaware, New Jersey, New York, the whole Eastern Seaboard, Tennessee and Kentucky and Illinois, Michigan, Texas. Nevada. Arizona. Louisiana. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and most importantly Wyoming (it was a flyover state I was unfortunately forced to drive through).
Alas, I've never been overseas, and my extranational travel has been limited to Ontario. Even then, I haven't been there since November, 1997, when the Sneakdogg and I tripped up to Windsor to meet Dan Stark to see this musician he'd been raving about, Sarah Slean, opening for Moe Berg (not the late catcher/spy, the guy from The Pursuit of Happiness) at a small place above another small place downtown. I was down with the five-hour road trip from Athens because I listened to good music back then; Sneakdogg was down because the drinking age in Canada is 19 and the Canadian dollar was worth then what the American dollar is worth now.
We only spent one night there, heading home in the morning. I haven't left the States since. But one thing I did that night, one small act, has come back to haunt me.
See, I used an ATM at the bar to get cash in order to buy Sarah's tape (yeah, she didn't have a CD yet, just a six-song cassette).
Why is this a big deal? Because the lawsuit by credit-card holders against the credit-card companies has been settled, a $336 million handover that offers anyone who used a MasterCard or Visa outside the U.S. (from 1996 to 2004) a refund on the jacked-up fees they were illegally charged. Even if you only spent a few bucks, you're eligible for the $25 "basic refund."
Twenty-five bucks is nice, certainly. Yet I'm a bit put off by how they managed to not only find me today (via U.S. mail) but deliver a personalized settlement form, featuring my current address.
Since the ATM transaction that made me privy to the lawsuit, I've made the following address changes:
Athens (1) -> Napoleon
Napoleon -> Athens (2)
Athens (2) -> Athens (3)
Athens (3) -> Napoleon
Napoleon -> Ypsilanti (1)
Ypsilanti -> Napoleon
Napoleon -> Ypsilanti (2)
Ypsilanti (2) -> Napoleon
Napoleon -> Zanesville (1)
Zanesville (1) -> Zanesville (2) [you might remember this house]
Zanesville (2) -> Tampa (1)
Tampa (1) -> Tampa (2) [not to be confused with the Tampa 2]
Tampa (2) -> Clearwater
That's 13 moves between 11 addresses. Yet they tracked me down, and with nary a sign of a forwarding address.
You should be scared. Also, if you used a credit card overseas at some point in the last year, you should be looking in your mailbox for a rebate form.
Incidentally, looking at the list I see I've lived in a lot of cities that start with a rare letter. I have A, C, N, T, Y, and Z covered. (W if you consider that my Tampa address was technically Wesley Chapel.) I should try and live in enough cities to cover the alphabet. Unfortunately, that means moving to China. The only cities on Earth that start with X and with colleges are Xi An and Xiamen. The only city (pop. > 5,000) in America that starts with X is Xenia, Ohio, so maybe I could live there and teach at Dayton. Xenia's a nice place, if you can get past the tornadoes.