I didn’t go looking for Respres.com. It found me.
A random link to the “about” page of Respres.com showed up in my Feedly stream as part of a search result designed to find instances when photos from my Flickr account are used outside of Flickr. I navigated to the page and found that Respres.com was, “an editorial services provider based in the US and Germany.” They “specialize in serving clients with scientific editing needs and have experience assisting those whose native language is not English.” I then quickly browsed the site, scanning a couple of blog posts to get a feel for what they did.
It took me all of about 60 seconds to decide that Sarah Mikula, a neuroscientist, and Respres.com should have my old Twitter account, @respres. I “abandoned” that account last February and switched it out with @jeffturner. The nickname “respres” was the result of login mistake on ActiveRain. Somehow the nickname stuck and I became attached to it. It became a recognizable part of my online identity, but last year I felt it was time to move on.
In my initial email to Sarah I told her that I had stumbled on her website and just felt she should have the Twitter handle for use with Respres.com. “That would be excellent and it’s very kind of you,” she said. “I’m happy to send you an admittedly modest amount for the name. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness!”
I told Sarah I didn’t want payment for the Twitter handle. “I got if for free. It’s value is in the content people add to it,” I said. “However, if you feel compelled, I’d rather you make a donation to my wife’s charity, http://mffo.org … that would make me smile.”
Then she made me smile in an unexpected way.
Her response to that email set off a brief exchange that made me smile wider than I could have possibly anticipated. She gave me permission to share it here. “I was homeless as a kid,” she told me, “and made it through college to be a neuroscientist now. It’s really amazing what kids can recover from if they’re just given the opportunity and resources. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I have a new perspective on my own childhood.” She added later, “it’s charities like your wife’s that allowed me to get as far as I did.”
Suddenly, two strangers with seemingly nothing in common had connected across thousands of miles. It was quick, but real, and all over an abandoned Twitter account. She validated, in a very real way, my gut instinct to send the original email. And right now, I could not be happier.
@respres is now in Sarah’s hands. I have no idea what she is going to do with it. But somehow I feel confident, @respres is going to be just fine.
— Jeff Turner (@jeffturner) February 26, 2013