WYOMING, Mich. – He sounds plain enough, answering the phone at J & S Auto in Wyoming.
“Thank you for calling J & S. This is Joe. May I help you?”
But this is no average Joe.
Every January, Joe Cramer reveals his mind-bending alter ego: The Wyoming Riddler.
Right now, thousands of people in the greater Grand Rapids area are looking for a little silver medallion – not much bigger than a credit card – hidden somewhere in the city by Cramer.
As he’s done for 32 years, Joe’s written a riddle and opened a competition to see who can solve it.
This year’s riddle: “HIDING IT WAS EASY ON MY BICYCLE. HOWEVER, WHEN SEEING IT FROM YOUR CAR AT TWO AND A HALF TON THE SOLUTION WOULD NOT BE QUITE AS EASY. IT’S SOUTH OF DOWNTOWN BUT STOP WHERE I SAID.”
“The first one was in 1980 and there was maybe 70-75 friends and family,” Joe says. ”But it was always open to everyone.”
“Free game, free prize, everything is free.”
But the inspiration for the fun comes from a dark past.
“I had amnesia for two years due to carbon monoxide poisoning in an industrial accident,” Joe says. ”It was a terrible thing for my family and me. When I got my memory back, I started to realize how bad that really was, so I concentrated on ‘What can I do? What can I do?’”
“So I started this little riddle.”
For those who can figure it out, the riddle reveals a location somewhere in the Greater Grand Rapids area. West Michigan gumshoes then have to find a silver medallion at that location.
There are rules to the location of the medallion. First, it has to be within walking distance of any bus stop in the Greater Grand Rapids area.
It’ll also be found less than three feet off the ground. And it’s never going to be buried, but you might have to move some snow or grass or dirt to find it.
You can find it in any public place, 24 hours a day. No climbing fences or trespassing onto private property.
After all, it’s just a game.
“The whole idea is to get somebody to win,” Joe says. ”I want somebody to win.”
Joe will release clues on every other Tuesday during the hunt.
If you manage to track down the medallion, you have to bring it back to J & S Auto Shop, 5724 Clay Ave. SW #3 in Wyoming by the end of February. The winner gets an inscribed mug filled with dollar coins and silver.
If it’s not delivered by the last day in February, the Riddler wins.