EDMONDS — For this, he spent four years in college.
Thirty years later, he’s making a name on Twitter, but not for himself. He uses an alias.
He’s the Edmonds Scanner, creator of a fictional police scanner about the real seaside city of 42,000 people.
“Do you have to use my name?” he asked, when contacted for a story.
He agreed to be named but didn’t want to show his face. Said he wants to keep the mystery. Why not let him? The only crime he committed was filing fake police reports. He’s a serial offender, in 280 characters.
“The mystery is part of it because everyone loves a mystery,” he said. “But once it’s solved, it’s over. You turn the movie off or close the book.”
I met him at the Edmonds waterfront to confirm he was legit, not a bot or a teen prankster. It was a sunny day and he wore a long dark coat, saving me the trouble of having to go up to every dude on the beach asking if he was by chance the Edmonds Scanner.
His name is Eric Adler. He’s 50 years old.
Adler started @EdmondsScanner six years and 5,811 tweets ago.
“I try to make little stories,” he said. “I don’t listen to any scanners. I have a lot of weird pop culture in my brain.”
His formula: “A little humor, a little wistfulness,” he said. “I have recurring characters and repeated motifs and tropes recycling through.”
Themes include 911 calls, squirrels, the mayor (not the real mayor, a made-up one), the sea.
He hatched this tweet while waiting for me: At low tide, some beachcombers found an ancient, locked chest under the pier. They found it filled with bell bottom jeans, Facts of Life VHS tapes, and broken dreams.
Adler has an English degree with a creative writing emphasis from the University of Washington. He has worked for 15 years at the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier. He doesn’t tweet on the job, but sometimes he gets ideas.
He and his wife, Liz Wong, have a 12-year-old son. Wong is an author and illustrator of books that include “Quackers” and “Pirate Queen: A Story of Zheng Yi Sao.”
Adler’s Twitter alter ego is known only to family and a few friends. He doesn’t self-promote for fortune or shamelessly solicit. Sure, he’d like to have more followers than his flock of 681. So follow him at @EdmondsScanner.
Here’s the rest of his story. I was going to write it but he wrote this up and did the work for me.
Confessions of the Edmonds Scanner
By Eric Adler
Why have I been posting three or four times a day since 2015 as Edmonds Scanner on Twitter?
I’ve always enjoyed the offbeat police blotter items. One day, in June of 2015, I came across a post on Sheboygan Scanner that simply said “lumber trouble.” I thought that was funny, and contained a little story that the reader could fill in.
So I started wondering what a Twitter feed with only these funny situations would look like.
Basically, what would a police scanner for the town of “Twin Peaks” be like, or Hawkins, Indiana, in “Stranger Things?” Or what if the “X-Files” visited the town of Cicely in “Northern Exposure?” That’s where I started.
I was looking for an outlet for my creative writing, but one with more immediate feedback.
Writing a novel (which is what I should be doing) is long, lonely work. You can face years of hard work and rejection. But with Edmonds Scanner, I’ll know very quickly if anyone is enjoying the latest update.
It’s also a stress reliever and a coping mechanism. If you have empathy for other people in the world, then the last few years have been hard for a lot of us, my family included. Twitter was full of bad news everyday, so if I can make someone smile or laugh, just for a second, then I hope I’m helping a little bit.
Luckily, I’ve found a very loyal little community, and they’ll reach out to me with jokes or gifs and I’ll respond. The connection with people is very important to me. It’s part of what keeps me posting all these years later.
My motto is: “All of the posts on Edmonds Scanner are true, IF you want them to be.” This is the world I want to live in.
Andrea Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.
Sampling of @EdmondsScanner tweets
— Your weather for today: Damp, cold, and foggy this morning. Some existential dread will creep in around noon. And we’ll end the day with a mild dose of crushing disappointment around 10:30 this evening.
— 911 caller says her grandmother was pulled off the ground by a swirling vortex of cherry blossoms. But she seemed delighted rather than frightened, caught up in a kaleidoscope of joy.
— There was no attempted squirrel-napping at the park. There was simply a squirrel napping. It was adorable.
— The light in your eyes is the same light that has burned in all of the special creatures and haunted places of the world. Do not give up. There is always hope.
— A local jogger finally caught up to the leprechaun, but instead of offering up his gold, he tried to interest her in some Bitcoin.
— 911 caller dug up some devil bones in her backyard, still reeking of brimstone and malice. Do those go in the garbage or yard waste?
— Traffic update: Stalled truck on 9th. Your life might feel stuck sometimes, like this truck. You should treat yourself. Have some wine and tacos tonight. You deserve it.
— The victim was injured while letting the cat out of the bag. A painful reminder to not take idioms too literally.
— 911 caller is reporting high winds, and just witnessed a couch flying past her home. It still had a cat on it, and a sleepy grandpa.
— The Ghost Tugboat is trying to push some kayakers out to sea. Even ghosts get lonely, and long for someone to travel the dark waters with, forevermore.
— 911 caller says her neighbor is causing ferret problems. He says he’s “providing ferret solutions.”
— The victim says a butterfly crashed through her living room window. She’s now wishing she hadn’t used the super growth hormone on the plants in her yard.
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