We have been having an exceedingly odd Winter here in Alabama. In a state where we’re lucky if we get snow once a decade, we have had half a dozen snow predictions in the past three months.
And it was because of these unheard of winter conditions that Uncle Joe’s Tot Locker found it’s way into my obsessive-need-to-know mind.
Photo courtesy of Michael Nix.
When it snowed last month, I blogged about the odd fact that Uncle Joe’s Tot Locker was being scrolled across our local news in the closings. I pondered as to whether it was a prank or if someone had actually named a day care something that invoked visions of a dirty high school football locker room with little kids peering out the slats of each locker.
The night I wrote about it, there was another threat of snow, and so Uncle Joe’s was closed again (apparently lockers become very hazardous at the threat of any bad weather), which led to literally hundreds of hits on my blog from people googling Uncle Joe’s Tot Locker with the same burning questions that I had.
Was it real?
Was it not?
Who would send their kids there?
- Aunt Jolene’s Preschooler Prison
- Germy Jeremy’s House O’Slobber
- Sister Sara’s Senior Storage
- Farmer Phil’s Baby Barnyard
After still no luck in discovering the answer to this mystery, I decided that it must have been a prank and moved on.
Until Monday night, when we had yet another snow threat – one that hardly anyone was taking seriously.
Except for Uncle Joe, of course.
As Uncle Joe’s Tot Locker scrolled endlessly at the bottom of the screen for the THIRD time, my assuredness that it was a prank started to wane (“SURELY someone couldn’t get away with it THAT many times if it weren’t real”), and the onslaught of google hits on my blog started again.
At that moment, I decided that I would serve the obvious needs in my state and I would not rest until I got to the bottom of the Uncle Joe Mystery.
First step: I found the Alabama DHR Day Care Directory System. Searches could only be done one county at a time, so I laboriously searched in all 67 counties for a day care with the word “Uncle” in the title.
No Luck. Which meant that if Uncle Joe WAS real, he wasn’t licensed. Somehow, that didn’t really surprise me.
Of course, I’d already searched online and paper White and Yellow Pages with no success, and search engines only led me back to my blog.
Next, I searched Alabama Incorporation Records. Nothing. So Uncle Joe is a tax evader too. Again, not a shocker.
I decided the only option I had left was to contact the television stations and see if they’d give me any information. They answered, but had no information as to how to contact the now-famous Day Care.
And then, I got an email.
From someone named Joseph.
A very short email. It read:
“Maybe you should try a facebook search under kids and families.
Could it be?? Was this Uncle Joe himself?
I was always afraid he’d find me. Because frankly, I pictured a huge beast of a man – a bouncer with an evil glare, a pointy gotee, and crossed, hugely muscular arms – just WAITING for someone to diss his child care abilities.
barely able to contain my excitement (and a bit of fear) in this lead, I went to Facebook and typed in “Uncle Joe’s Tot Locker” in the search bar.
One Facebook group – Uncle Joe’s Tot Locker – came up.
[Note: the Facebook group has since been shut down.]
The description was: “You supply the Tots, we supply the Lockers. Pretty self explanatory, people.”
The conversations on the wall were hilarious, and I quickly surmised that Uncle Joe’s Tot Locker was most definitely a joke, and a very well-planned out one at that.
I emailed Uncle Joe back and asked him the question that the whole state of Alabama wanted to know the answer to: How’d you manage to get listed on air – THREE TIMES?
“First you begin with boredom, bad weather and vodka. Then, VOILA!
My wife and I were watching daycare closings in January and noticed some REALLY bad daycare names and I impulsively called Fox 6 and told them I had a closing at my daycare and they asked me for my code.
After telling them I didn’t have one, they were nice enough to walk me through the process. It took about 3 minutes. It’s really made winter a lot of fun around my house. Some friends have even made T-shirts ( complete with barb-wire).”
He gave me permission to share my findings with you, even at the risk of outing his fun, since SURELY our snow threats are over for the year.
And so there you have it. My theory about prank calling in closings? It’s not only possible, but it’s been done multiple times by a master. Which has led to creating a continually high level of curiosity throughout the whole state of Alabama.
Uncle Joe, I salute you for your hard work at entertaining us all through this bleak and blizzardy winter. I wish you many more successful years of Southern Snowstorms of Tot Locker closings.