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“My baby has been missing for over a month now, and I want him back so badly,” said Mrs. Brown, a 56-year-old woman, to a reporter from a local newspaper.

Mrs. Brown lives by herself in a caravan near Clovis. She said that Clyde, her 7-year-old cat, didn’t come home for dinner one day. The next morning he didn’t appear for breakfast either. Seven days later, when Clyde missed an extra-special lunch, she decided to call the police.

When the policeman asked her to describe Clyde, she told him that Clyde was quite usual. He had beautiful green eyes, had a full set of teeth but was missing half of his left ear. He was seven years old and completely white. She then told the officer that Clyde was about 35 centimeters tall.

“Is Clyde your child or your pet?” he asked suspiciously. “Well, he’s my cat, of course,” Mrs. Brown replied. “You’re supposed to report missing persons, not missing cats,” said the irritated policeman. “Well, who can I report this to?” she asked. “You can’t. You have to ask around your neighborhood or give leaflets,” replied the officer firmly.

After the conversation with the police officer, Mrs. Brown thought that putting up leaflets in shop windows might be a good idea after all. However, when she asked her next door neighbour about the leaflets he informed her that they are not usually very successful. Instead, he suggested asking neighbours about the cat but Mrs. Brown wasn’t keen on the idea. She decided that a billboard would work a lot better than a small leaflet. There was an empty billboard at the end of her street right next to the highway. The billboard had a phone number on it. She called that number, and they told her they could put up a picture of Clyde (from Mrs. Brown’s family album) on the billboard for everyone to see with details about the cat and her phone number.

“But how can people see it when they speed along the highway?” she asked. “Oh, don’t worry, ma’am, they only speed between 2 a.m. and 5.30 a.m. The rest of the day, the highway is so full of commuters that no one moves and they can read your advertisement.” They told her it would cost only $3,000 a month. So, without a moment of hesitation or doubt, she took most of the money out of her savings account and rented the billboard for a month.

The month passed, but Clyde didn’t appear and no one called. Because she still wanted her cat back badly and had almost no money in savings she was going to ask her local bank to lend her some money. A friend saw her thinking about the cat and advised her to call a local newspaper to see if it was possible to place a special advertisement on the front page. Maybe someone could help her rent the billboard for free for just one more month. Of course, that’s exactly what she did and she is still waiting for some news about Clyde.

adapted from www.rong-chang.com/qa2/stories/story011.htm