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TL;DL (Too Long; Didn’t Listen)
A Redditor stumbles upon a huge pile of plates in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. Reddit sleuths across the globe try to figure out where the plates are located and how they got there. Endless Thread embarks on an epic journey to Pennsylvania to get to the bottom of this mystery, once and for all.
- /u/Awesome_Clips' infamous post about the pile of plates:
- A Redditor labeled the suspected plates location "Pile O' Crockery"
(Lightly edited for clarity)
Ben Johnson: OK, so I’m walking past the gate that was across the road to try and see what I can see of this. Oh my God, that just scared the crap out of me. I came across a white-tailed deer that just ran--- went tearing across the road in front of me. Just trying to stay alert, because it is a little creepy what’s happening here.
Amory Sivertson: So Ben has gone down the road past a metal gate. It’s definitely clearly like a, “Do Not Go Back Here.” And I’m just nervous about this whole thing.
Ben: OK, so what’s up ahead? Is it technically a trailer. Like a trailer that someone would live in. And it’s just out in the middle of the woods here ... which also makes me a bit nervous, because if someone’s living here and I’m coming this way, that’s super scary.
Amory: I thought he was just gonna go down there, see what he could see, turn around.
Ben: It’s weird. There’s like a bunch of pathways kind of carved into the woods here, which is kind of bizarre...old tracks, old roads. OK, this is so creepy.
Ben’s GPS: In 600 feet, your destination will be on the right.
Ben: Woo, this is a long way to go without Josh and Amory.
Amory: Alright, we’re trying to find Ben. He left the car and went to cross this fence to see if he could find the plates.
Ben: Ohhh, wow!
GPS: Your destination is on the right.
Ben: *Record scratch. Freeze frame.* Yup, that’s us...the Endless Thread team...split up...in the middle of the woods. You’re probably wondering how we ended up in this situation? It all started some weeks back, when Amory and I were looking at a very strange post I had found on Reddit — a post that would hit the site’s front page... with tens of thousands of upvotes... and thousands of responses. So let’s rewind a bit.
Ben: What is this? What are we what are we looking at?
Amory: OK. It’s posted to the WTF community. The text reads, “I was driving through the back roads of Pennsylvania on the way to a camping spot and found a mountain of ceramic dishes and teacups in the middle of the woods!? Question mark. Exclamation point.
Ben: OK. And the photo is of this pretty, I would say, goofy lookin dude.
Ben: He’s got a weird, one of those…
Amory: Like adventure dad hat.
Ben: Yeah like a Indiana Jones if Indiana Jones wasn’t that cool kind of hat.
Ben: And then he’s wearing some dorky gym shorts and he’s wearing socks.
Amory: High socks!
Ben: He’s got a beard. And he’s like, “Whaaaa?” and pointing at this massive mountain of dishware. What do the plates look like, Amory?
Amory: We’ve got a variety in here actually.
Ben: Oh here we go.
Amory: You’ve got the big, wide circular dinner plates.
Ben: You gotcha big plates!
Amory: You gotcha big plates. You got ya square plates.
Ben: Oh my God. I’m seeing some wide, there’s some saucies-
Amory: -shallow bowls. Some saucers.
Ben: Some saucies in there!
Amory: Some saucies!
Ben: A couple saucies.
Amory: They’re all white. I think these may all be the same brand of dishware.
Ben: There’s something about this photo of plates. It calls to you.
Amory: It does. And it is kinda hard to encapsulate with words just how absurd this is.
Ben: Even the guy in the photo with this mountain of dishware is incredulous. His arms are out. He’s like. Whaaaaaaa?
Amory: Every time we show it to people we work with, which we have been doing, for weeks, it gets a reaction.
Candace: Holy moly. It’s crazy, it’s awesome!
Jamie: What am I looking at?
Desiree: I think it’s a mountain of trash plates! I think, yeah, there’s some square ones!
Candace: It looks like a pile of junk but holy God it’s...teacups? Dishes?
Jess: It kind of looks like if the dining room from the titanic washed up on shore, this is what you would find.
Candace: Huge! It doesn’t even fit in the frame of the picture!
Ally: It’s gotta be like at least 10 feet, 12 feet high.
Jess: Easily like a 15 foot, maybe more — 20 foot mountain of of plates?
Jamie: Could be a million plates. A billion plates?
Candace: I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.
Alex: It’s curious. I would like to know more.
Jamie: I don’t know what this is for!?
Bruce: Oh it’s for the Plate Association of America, you got it! It’s perfect!
Jamie: Tectonic plates! OK
Amory: According to the Original Poster, and the title of this post on Reddit, this mysterious, enigmatic, giant pile of dishware is in the woods of Pennsylvania. And everyone, including redditors, want to know everything about it. Not just where. But WHY. HOW. WHO.
Ben: There’s almost 2,000 comments on this. And, top comment, “Was there a mountain of tupperware lids or mountains of left socks anywhere near there?”
Amory: Is that a joke I’m supposed to get?
Ben: Amory! C’mon!
Amory: I’m sorry.
Ben: It’s like things that the universe sucks out of your life.
Amory: Ohhh TV remotes.
Ben: Yeah exactly.
Amory: I totally I totally buy that. There’s a dimension where all that stuff is.
Ben: Yeah. That’s the Ren and Stimpy joke.
Ren and Stimpy: These are all left socks! This is where all the missing left socks in the universe go!
Ben: So my question to you is, why are we doing this story?
Amory: Because we don’t know what the heck those plates are doing out there!
Ben: It’s an unsolved mystery on Reddit, which is actually really good at solving mysteries.
Amory: Mmmm. There is some good news. There’s this one guy who knows where it is.
Guy: It seemed like a strange sort of thing to stumble across in the middle of nowhere.
Ben: In this, the year of our lord, 2019, the internet has a lot of conspiracy theories, strange stories, oddities. But not a lot of mysteries that the internet itself can’t solve.
Amory: This might be one of them. This mountain of plates.
Ben: Amory, we have a title for this episode.
Ben: And it is based on a subreddit that is about bad plating techniques at restaurants.
Amory: Like a sandwich served on a mini shovel or something.
Ben: And so that subreddit and this episode is called
Ben and Amory: WE WANT PLATES!
Ben: I’m Ben Brock Johnson.
Amory: I’m Amory Sivertson. And this is Endless Thread.
Ben: The show featuring stories found in the vast ecosystem of online communities called Reddit.
Amory: We’re coming to you from WBUR, Boston’s NPR station.
Ben: So, we’ve got this plates mystery. And whatever the full story is, we have to start with the question of where the plates are. There is an obvious way to answer this question. Talk to the guy in the photo, the guy who posted about it on Reddit.
Amory: So we reached out. And we reached out again. And we followed up. And we followed up again. We chatted him, we personal messaged him. And he eventually got back! He was like sure yeah totally I’ll talk to you guys. And then, he fell off the map again. Totally unresponsive. All we knew was that his name is Matt. And Matt was not around.
Ben:So we went with the next best thing. Another Redditor. Who had come up with a very popular theory. That man is named James
James: And on Reddit my name is Agent641.
Ben: And James is proof of how this mysterious pile of plates has become internationally famous. James lives in Australia.
Amory: Where in Australia? Pretty much wherever.
Ben: I don’t think we’ve done an interview with someone who’s in a van.
Amory: Nope, you’re our you’re our very first one.
James: It’s a it’s a real privilege.
Ben: Same here.
James: I’m sort of trying to keep my voice down because someone parked next to me.
Ben: You’ve heard of hashtag vanlife?
Amory: Yeah dude. James is living the van life dream baby! Vannnn sweet van.
James: Ummm, I’ve got a kitchen sink over here. Running water.
Ben: James was one of the thousands of people fascinated by this plates post.
James: And it sort of made me wonder where they had all come from, like why they might dispose of them all at once, and why they dumped them all in a big pile out in the middle of nowhere.
Amory: And we should say here that there are a lot of theories in the comments of this Reddit post. Illegal dumping of some kind by a trucking company. Or by a casino. And this one makes sense in a way? Big business. Might need to get rid of some old plates. Lots of em. Somebody at a casino might know a guy. With a truck. I mean, we’ve all seen the Sopranos right?
Ben (in a great impression): “Hey Tony! We gotta change out all our dated plates and cups.” And then Tony says, “But what are we gonna do with the old ones!?” And Frankie says, “Eyyy have the service dispose of ‘em!” And Tony says, “Riiiiight.”
Amory: That’s not a great impression.
Ben: What!? Get Out.
Amory: But I love this theory that there’s some mafia illegal dumping going on.
Ben: Whatever the conspiracy theories are, James was focused on location first.
James: It seemed like something that was easily visible from satellite imagery. Just a big white...
James: Yeah so the poster mentioned that he'd been going camping and he'd taken a picture on the back road. So I thought I would start at campsites in Pennsylvania.
Ben: So here’s what James did. He googled campgrounds in Pennsylvania because there was mention of a “Camping Spot” in the original post. About 40 popped up immediately.
Amory: And he just started to go down the list. He’d pick a campground, look at it on satellite imagery, looking around a radius of about two miles. Arbitrary. But if you’re looking for a needle in a Pennsylvania woods haystack. It makes sense!
Ben: James also looked at the photo, and the plates seemed to be in a pretty large clearing. So he picked a number — 60 feet wide or so at a minimum — and included that in his ad-hoc satellite imagery search.
James: And I also thought about the logistics of actually dumping the plates in that spot. Whoever did that would need to use quite large trucks.
Ben: So you're discounting the possibility that either a teleporter or an alien spaceship brought them there.
James: Yeah I mean that was if that was a plan B I was going to go with that.
Amory: And there it was. Just down the road from the Tanglewood Campground in a huge swath of forest in North Central PA. A big splotchy, amorphous, reflective blob. You can see it too on Google Maps. Near the intersection of Tanglewood Road and Sunset Lane. It’s been labeled. Huge Pile of Plates. Also, Pile of Crockery. It’s at the edge of a clearing, just off a road near what looks like a big gravel pit half full of water.
Ben: Someone labeled the plates on Google Maps as quote pile of crockery.
James: Yes I saw that.
Ben: Was that you?
James: No that wasn't me. That was someone else. I did review a review on that.
Ben: Ooooo which review was yours?
James: I don't remember it was something like it's a it's an interesting new restaurant concept. You got your plate from the pile and then you just chase down whatever food you can find. And pay what you want, basically.
Ben: Well James I have good news for you and potentially bad news for us, which is yes, we're going.
James: That's amazing. I would love to hear the outcome of that. And I do hope you stay safe.
Ben: We will.
Amory: God I hope. I haven't been genuinely concerned but now I am.
Ben: It’s starting to get scarier.
Amory: So, we hopped in the car and drove 4 hours straight west from Boston. And then we put our final destination into the GPS.
GPS: The 3 hour 30 minute drive to Huge Pile Of Plates. Are you sure you want to navigate there?
Ben: Oh I’m sure! I’m sure.
GPS: Okay. Huge Pile of Plates.
Amory: And we’re off!
Ben: And we’re off! To Huge Pile Of Plates! I should say here, that at this stage in the game, there are a few things Amory doesn’t know yet. I’ve kept them from her because I’m excited to surprise her with the information and blow her mind. One of the surprises is I know who the landowner is. I’ve done my research on the location that James found. I used something called GIS, Geographic Information System. It’s a kind of data and mapping technology used around the world to organize information of all kinds for map-related stuff: urban planning, land rights, ownership. The landowner is. Clifford Cross Junior. He apparently owns some sort of trucking company. And he lives nearby the plates. But I haven’t called him yet. Because I have this fear, that if we call him, he’s going to tell us to keep out. And that request is going to end our adventure real fast. And considering the number of theories that involve some sort of illegal activity as the explanation for the Pile of Crockery, my plan is to get us to the property first. See if we can see this mountain of plates from the road. And then if Clifford Cross says “I don’t know what you’re talking about” we can at least say, “Hey man. We’re looking right at it! So I’m waiting for the right time to do all of this. Meanwhile. We’re road tripping.
Ben: We just saw a guy on a three wheeler. He was going somewhere fast.
Amory: He looked like fun.
Ben: Would you get on the back of that three wheeler with that with that dude?
Amory: Nope. Would you?
Ben: I'd wrap my arms around that burly man and go wherever he wanted to go. I'm ready.
Ben: Before we left, we sent some listeners the plates post and asked them what their theories were. Erica said it reminds her of the Golden State Killer and how he would stack dishes on the backs of his victims so he would know if they’d tried to escape. Thanks for the nightmares Erica!
Amory: Thomas thinks it’s the work of a hoarding grandma. Corey thinks a factory must have closed down and just dumped the dishes hoping no one would find them. But my personal favorite theory, came from reddit.
Amory: OK, the theory that I am digging right now is someone noticed that this pile of plates is I think about 45 minutes south of Corning, New York. Have you heard of Corningware, Ben? It was a line of dishware…
Ben: From a dish company in New York.
Amory: From a dish company. Yeah I don't remember if they had a headquarters in Corning but I want to say that they did. They had some sort of facility in Corning.
Ben: I wonder if we’re gonna drive past Corning.
Amory: Oh maybe. Are coming from that direction?
Amory: OK! I mean if we are we should we should stop.
Josh Swartz: Oh oh oh!
Amory: What? Corning! Holy shit!
Ben: What the shhhhh…
Amory: There it is!
Ben: Is this Corning? Are we in Corning?
Amory: We just passed a giant white factory looking building that says Corning in huge letters across the top.
Ben: Should I pull over?
Josh: Yeah yeah yeah do it.
Josh: Let’s check them out.
Ben: OK, ready?
Ben: How are you?
Corning Dishware Security Guard: Doing well, thank you. What can I get for you?
Amory: Oh I’ll tell you what you can get for us? You can get us proof that the plates are from your company!
Ben: So is this where Corning dishware is made?
Security Guard:I can't answer really any questions in terms of the media. But just let me find a shift supervisor for you.
Amory: So we waited for a shift supervisor to respond to the call over the intercom.
Ben: How are you?
Supervisor: How we doin? You lookin’ for Mark Gravelin?
Ben: We don’t know.
Amory: Well, maybe, yes.
Ben: Man, Mark Gravelin’s got us flustered!. Once we calm down a little, we give him our shpiel. And Mark delivers some news.
Mark Gravelin: We make all biomedical, it's all plastic here.
Ben: Ohhh plastic!
Amory: All plastic here!
Mark: Biomedical flask, petri dishes, and storage bottles.
Ben: Ohhh so there's no dishware connection?
Supervisor: No sir.
Mark: This is all polystyrene.
Josh: Corningware? Is that different?
Mark: That’s not us.
Josh: That’s not you.
Ben: Different company. We’re in the wrong place.
Ben: So rejected.
Ben: Alright. Let's get let's get back on the road. We got a pile of dishes to find.
Amory: The Corning dishware theory, on hold for now.
Ben: One more thing we should mention quickly. The only town close to this spot we were headed to is called Covington Township. Now, I looked it up, just doing some light reading on it. And I was reading through the Wikipedia page for it. To get the basics. At the bottom of the entry for this little town. Is a section of the Wiki page headlined controversy!
Amory: The entry is short. But it says the town has been embroiled in a bunch of accusations against the town’s Board of Supervisors...especially the Chairman, Thomas Yerke. It says...
“Among the allegations of misconduct against Supervisor Yerke are accusations of knowingly allowing the illegal discharge of raw sewage, illegally dumping hazardous waste on his property and other environmental law violations.”
Amory: After hours of driving we were getting close. And signs of human civilization were getting further away.
Amory (in the car): Okay.
Ben: Oh shit.
Amory: Oh God.
Ben: We're into the, we’re onto a dirt road.
Amory: Onto the gravel.
Ben: We’re onto the gravel…
Ben: Even the gravel road was getting pretty gnarly. And steep. Going up into a kind of low, ancient, ground-down mountain.
Ben: This is pedal to the metal.
Amory: I don’t like that.
Ben: Ahh! The phone just fell! Alright, we’re OK. Everyone’s okay!
Amory: But then, the closer we got, the more the forest started to close in around us. The more the road became just a smaller and smaller track through the woods.
Amory: We’re one minute away!
Ben: Dude, this is not even a thing. Like we might have to walk from here.
Ben: We started going down into a hollow, into deep woods. Nothing was out there.
Ben: We're now officially driving through a creek bed.
Amory: Oh Ben oh no no no no.
Ben: We’re driving through a creek bed!
Amory: I really don’t like this. I’m getting sweaty! Ohhh we're at a real impasse now because there's a metal fence up and we cannot drive further.
Ben: I don't want to get stuck in here. OK, this is how a horror movie starts. I think we should walk up to the fence. Are we cool with doing that?
Amory: Across this totally-not-road, in the middle of a mosquito convention, was a cattle gate. With some old posts covered with those menacing signs. That say “Posted.” AKA, private property. AKA keep out.
Ben: I mean, we are so close. I could walk down there right now and just see what I can see and see what the scenario is and then walk back. Why don’t we do that?
Josh: Alright, I’m gonna pause the recording.
Ben: We’ll back. I think? In a minute.
Ben: So Amory and our producer Josh are waiting back behind the Posted sign. And I am wandering through a seemingly endless parcel of land that is so deep in the woods that the roads we thought bordered the property are not roads. As I walk through the tall grass into a kind of maze of grassy pathways and meadows cut through the forest, I’m going back and forth between being positive we’re about to find the plates. And being positive we are making a huge mistake.
Ben (in woods): This is super creepy because there’s just a trailer that’s out here, just sitting out here in the middle of the woods.
Ben: I’m running around in these woods maybe...8 minutes?
Amory: Oh it was longer than eight minutes! It was like twenty minutes.
Ben: Okay. But it felt like we were just a turn in the grassy path from Plate Heaven.
Ben (in woods): Ohhh, wow! OK, I think I might be getting close to it.
GPS: Your destination is on the right.
Ben: Except. It wasn’t. I hightailed it back.
Amory: Freaking finally.
Ben (in the woods to Josh and Amory): I did not see a pile of plates But I didn’t fully explore. I decided I should come back.
Ben: Really I just came back to convince you guys to go deeper into the woods *with* me. And I needed to tell you more, Amory, of what I had been keeping to myself about Clifford Cross.
Ben: Clifford Cross Jr. who’s listed as owning this property runs a trucking company.
Ben: There are a lot of competing theories about the reason behind the pile of plates. But everyone seems to agree they must have been dumped somewhere using a big truck. And the guy, whose property we are currently exploring, runs a trucking company. Single licence.
Amory: And we were trying to get in touch with him.
Answering Machine: Hello! Please leave a message after the tone.
Ben: Hello, my name is Ben Johnson. I’m calling looking for Mr. Cross.
Ben: So we kept wading through the tall grass. There was an old earth mover parked on the crest of a hill that looked like it hadn’t moved any earth in a decade. There was a man-made pond surrounded by dirt, the creepy empty overgrown trailer.
Amory: A duck blind for hunting. You know, with guns, good times.
Amory (in woods): I have like a rule that I live by, and it’s does this feel stupid? And if it does, you don’t do it.
Amory: And the reason you don’t do it, the reason you don’t go into the woods to an unfamiliar location where no-one actually knows you’ve gone private property where there have been allegations of illegal evidence of hunting, is that you might end up like someone on the Sopranos, whose storyline has just ended.
Ben: It's going to be okay, Amo.
Amory: I hate this, I hate being the one who’s afraid.
Josh: No no no, I’m afraid.
Ben: Yeah, I am too.
Josh: Seriously, I’m afraid. I don’t know if that makes you feel better but--
Ben: Yeah I am too, I am too.
Amory: You’re phone’s ringing.
Ben: Should I answer it?
Ben (On the phone) Hello?
Man on phone: Yeah is this Ben?
Ben: Yeah this is.
Clifford Cross: My name’s Clifford Cross.
Ben: Oh Clifford! Thanks so much for calling me back.
Clifford: Well what do you know about this plate situation? Total shock to me here when DEP guy calls me up wondering where the plates were. And I said, “I’m wondering where they are too! Because I have no fricken idea what you’re talking about.”
Amory: Cliff says this was a whole big misunderstanding a few months back. He heard from a very persistent investigator from the Department of Environmental Protection following up on a tip. It had something to do with the internet.
Ben: And Cliff says he used to have a pile of lime on the property. Lime, lime like the beige colored mineral that is used in agriculture for a bunch of different stuff. So that must have been what the DEP was talking about. The only catch is the pile of lime is not there anymore. And now there’s no real sign of plates or lime.
Amory: He doesn’t seem too worried about us being on his property, but he says he wants to meet us down the road and explain things. We say, Okaaaaayyyyy?
Ben: This part almost felt like a movie. You know, when you meet the guy at the spot. The remote place. We’re standing at our car. He pulls up in his car, which is bigger.
Ben (to Clifford): It’s nice to meet you, I’m Ben.
Clifford: Ben, yep yep.
Ben: This is Amory.
Amory: Nice to meet you.
Ben: And this is Josh.
Josh: I’m Josh, nice to meet you.
Ben: And you’ve been here how long?
Clifford: My whole life.
Clifford: Been here my whole life.
Ben: Fair, fair.
Clifford: Well, if you wanna get in your car we can drive right over to where the…
Ben: That’d be amazing.
Amory: Sure, we’ll follow you.
Ben (in car): I’m buying it from Clifford Cross. Hook, line, and sinker, I’m sold.
Amory: Yeah but you’re also — you like people, you know? I mean you are--
Ben: What’s not to like? He shows up in a--
Amory: I’m not saying he’s not likeable.
Ben: --in a Cadillac Escalade.
Amory: I know very funny.
Ben: He’s got a hunter, he’s got a--
Amory: He’s all in a what’s that called?
Ben: It’s just all tree camo.
Amory: Realtree. Realtree it’s called.
Ben: Realtree camo. Hat to shorts.
Amory: Did you see? No.
Ben: Okay I didn’t see below his shirt.
Amory: You didn’t peek into his knickers.
Ben: But his story seems legit to me! Because like if he’s wealthy--
Amory: Ooh deer!
Ben: Ooh! He’s not trying to fricken let somebody illegal dump on his land or illegal dump some plates.
Amory: Unless he’s involved!
Ben: It is hard not to notice that our beautiful but somewhat scary day in the woods has been transformed by a very menacing storm. As we follow Cliff back onto his land to the exact spot we were just anxiously traversing the sky has gone dark. And then it splits open.
Amory (in woods): Is this it?
Clifford: Yeah yeah. This was where them plates were showing. This is the pile of, and I don’t know how they, I’m not a computer guy. But somehow somebody-
Ben and Amory: Ohh you think it was a doctored the photo?
Ben and Amory: Wooooah.
Ben: Is like dumping an issue around these parts? Do you know if illegal dumping-
Clifford: We don’t have a problem here because the landfill’s only three miles right over--
Ben: Landfill’s right there.
Clifford: Yeah! Why would I dump plates on my property when the landfill’s only three miles right over there. There’s no plates, never has been.
Ben: Well we came a long way for-
Clifford: You came a long way for nothing.
Ben: --to talk to you!
Clifford: I’ll tell ya, I was hoping you knew more than I did. But I would say somebody has doctored that photograph. The DEP guy was parked clear out there and tread through a mile and a half of 12-inch deep crusty snow. He earned his badge that day, I’ll tell ya.
Amory: Cliff says that the official from Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection was pretty aggressive. But that he couldn’t find any plates on his property. So the DEP guy backed off.
Ben: Do you remember his name?
Clifford: I have his card down at the house.
Ben: Do you think you could give us his name so we could call him and, now we’re trying to find where the place is. If it’s not here, we gotta figure it out.
Clifford: Where are they, yeah. I don’t have a clue. I mean he couldn’t figure out either. Because he wanted to throw my butt in jail and well hey, bring it on! Because I ain’t got nothing to hide.
Ben: That’s amazing.
Ben: Sooooo...our adventure continues. To Cliff’s house.
Clifford: Yep c’mon in. Don’t be scared though.
Amory: OK. This is a foyer of death. Does Cliff Cross have a personal taxidermist, the way someone might have a personal chef? I mean, maybe? You know that scene from the second Ace Ventura movie, where the poacher takes Ace into his trophy room?
Ace Ventura Clip: Something wrong Mr. Ventura?
Ace: Of course not! This is a lovely room of death. Take care now. Bye bye then.
Amory: Are these all yours?
Clifford: Oh yeah.
Ben: Woahhhhh. Everything from a full-size massive moose and several bucks to a jackalope…
Amory: Black bear…
Clifford: Hen turkey with a beard. That is very rare.
Ben: Amory, how did you feel about traipsing around this guy’s property, a guy who appears to be a pretty good shot with half of these animals having the arrow that killed them on the same mounting as the head?
Amory: You know, I was not psyched to stand in Cliff’s Foyer. But I was psyched that he welcomed us into his home, and he showed us all the images the DEP guy showed him. And we showed Cliff the stuff we had. A lot of it was the same. And he gave us the DEP guy’s name. After we helped him look through an extensive business card collection to get it.
Ben: Here we go. Keith Ruhl. Department of Environmental Protection. Solid Waste Specialist.
Clifford: Yep, that’s it.
Amory: That’s him.
Ben: So we bid Cliff farewell. He didn’t seem to be our guy. We called the DEP guy. Keith. No answer. Also, we continued to desperately message the person who got us into this mess. Matt. The original poster. Who had responded a few times but had gone silent on us for weeks.
Amory: We did have one glimmer of hope. So remember how Matt had said in the post that he found the plates near a campground? Cliff had mentioned another campground not too far away.
Ben (in car): OK so hear me out on something right now. You ready?
Ben: I know that this may be a fool’s errand but we are we did come all the way here. And we haven’t found the plates.
Ben: So my last ditch pitch was let’s go to the campground that’s close by.
Amory: And this was the beginning of us heading to several campground, some on the way home, some not. All of them full of confused but kind campground managers.
Ben (in car): We are trying to solve an internet mystery about a huge pile of plates.
Amory: Near a campground in Pennsylvania.
Art: Pile of… plates?
Bridget: Hahaha do you see that??
Tyler: That’s something.
Bridget: Do you see this??
Debbie: Pile of… plates?
Amory: Yeah like dishware.
Debbie: I don’t know what you’re looking for but I know we have never found any kind of plates around here that I know anything of.
Ben: Well thank you very much, Debbie.
Amory: Fair enough. Yeah thank you for your time.
Ben: We appreciate it.
Amory: Oh the call failed.
Ben: Bye Debbie.
Amory: Bye Debbie.
Amory: This hail mary effort...was really the first stage of our team going through what I like to call...the five stages of Plate Mountain Grief. First stage? Denial.
Josh: James is so great.
Josh: Cliff is so great. We’ve got some damn good characters man.
Amory: We have great tape. This is this is totally an episode.
Ben: BUT WE DON’T HAVE THE PLATES!
Ben: Clearly stage two is anger.
Amory: I know but, dude.
Ben: We want plates!
Amory: I I agree. I want plates, you want plates, we all want plates.
Ben: Listen, if I have to eat every fuckin’ pizza in Pudgie’s Pizza right now to get to the plates, I’ll do it!
Amory: Pudgie’s. A regional pizza chain we’ve seen a lot of down here, where the dress-code may require more than just a rain-soaked undershirt.
Amory: Where are you going?
Ben: I’m putting my shirt on.
Amory: Stage three? My specialty. Bargaining.
Amory: We have one more state park we can hit before it gets dark.
Ben: Josh is like nah nah nah nah nah nah.
Amory: That’s all I’m saying.
Ben: And we move into Plate-based depression. Which really set in after false hope from our intern, Maggie, who was trying to help us from a desk back in Boston.
Maggie: I found it you guys!!
Maggie: I found it.
Ben: But, she had found the same pile of plates that James had. The one that doesn’t exist.
Maggie: Oh nooooo.
Ben: Is it titled huge pile of plates?
Maggie: It is.
Amory: Sigh. I knew it.
Ben: I knew it too. As soon as she said it.
Josh: Great moment of false hope.
Ben: False hope.
Amory: And finally, acceptance. After visiting five campgrounds. We were done.
Ben: I would just like to say that after this incredibly, incredibly long day, Google gave me a notification that says, “How was huge pile of plates? Your opinion matters! Help other visitors!” Should we leave a review?
Ben: I think we probably should, right?
Amory: Yeah! Ben: Came for plates. Was disappointed. If anyone…
Amory: Give ‘em our email address.
Ben: Anyone has recommendation for a real huge pile of plates please email endless thread at wbur.org. You happy with that?
Amory: Yep that’s about right. I guess the silver lining is that there’s like almost a literal silver lining through the clouds, and it’s beautiful out here.
Ben: The bird song is legit.
Amory: We’re looking out at the mountains on a sunny, warm, summerish night. No plates, but we have pie in the trunk!
Ben: Pie in the trunk right now is good.
Amory: If only we had a plate to put it on.
Ben: We were headed back home. Dejected. Total failures. What were we doing anyway? We drove to the middle of Pennsylvania from Boston because of some internet comments? Were we idiots? We might have been idiots.
Amory: But then. When all was lost. Just as we were finally leaving Pennsylvania. Something happened. Something that had been months in the making.
Josh: OK ready.
Ben (to the phone): Hey is this Matt?
Matt: Yes this is.
Ben: Matt. AKA, the guy who found the plates in the first place and posted the picture on Reddit. The guy we have been trying to get a hold of for three freaking months.
Matt: Finally I’m able to talk to you guys. Sorry about the long, long wait there.
Amory: Sorry?! Matt. Apologize to the listeners. Because this story isn’t over. On the next Endless Thread, an ending.
Ben (on the phone): I have some news. I just talked to Matt for a very long time.
Josh (on the phone): Is he just the biggest troll?
Ben (on the phone): Are you sure you’re ready for this?
Amory (on the phone): What?
Ben (on the phone): It sounds like you’re saying this pile of plates, it does exist and you know where it exists.
Voice on the phone: I can’t confirm or deny.
Ben (on the phone): Oh nooooo!
Ben: As we scour the final plate-based frontier. We talk to the Department of Environmental Protection.
Amory: We talk to Matt. We talk to the owners of a mysterious business.
Ben: And again, for some reason, we talk to more people on the internet. To get their theories. And we solve this thing. Once and for all.
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