Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Thanksgiving mixup with a happy ending

An Australian man has just spent Thanksgiving with an American family in Florida - not friends, but complete strangers! The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

James West has touched down in Sydney this morning after a whirlwind trip to the US that was sparked by an email mix-up but ultimately led to his first Thanksgiving dinner, a party on a yacht and a letter of thanks from a US congressman.

West, who lives in Potts Point, published a video on YouTube last week confessing that a family in Florida had been mistakenly sending him group emails for three years discussing their Thanksgiving preparations. The emails were intended for a different James West with a similar email address.

"This video is to come clean to the Tran family and to say that I'm sorry for perving on your Thanksgiving preparations for three years but it's also a plea to the Tran family to say can I come to Thanksgiving, i'd really love to," he said in the video, which garnered 68,000 views.

West, a 28-year-old broadcast journalist, acknowledges he could have tracked the family down more easily by sending them an email but denies his campaign was a publicity stunt, arguing he wanted to use YouTube to document his journey and conduct a "social media experiment".

Days went by without West hearing from the Trans so he sent them an email. The next day, with just hours to go before his deadline to leave the country and the same day he appeared on Sunrise, the Trans responded asking "Will you be on the next plane?"

"As soon as they got back in touch with me I booked a flight to Florida," West said, adding the family told him they wouldn't have invited him if it wasn't for his YouTube clip.

"They took me to a hotel where I stayed, they put me up for the whole time that I was there because they were so excited about it.

"We had the full day of Thanksgiving where we ate s***loads of food and then the rest of the three days we just sort of hung around West Palm Beach."

The family welcomed him with open arms and even threw him a party on a yacht, "just down from Tiger Woods' yacht".

He learnt about the family's history, such as how the Trans had migrated to the US from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

"[The dinner] was surprisingly unweird and that was the strangest thing about it," he said.

West documented the entire adventure, including him helping prepare the dinner and the feast itself, on his YouTube channel and amassed a global following. He was interviewed by major US TV stations including CNN, NBC and CBS.

There's more at the link.

He's got a bit of a bloody cheek . . . but it looks like everybody had a good time, so I guess all's well that ends well.


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