Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Name Game

My real name is not uncommon, perhaps even more common than "Donnie Richards." (Yup. Just googled them both and there are more than fifty-two of the real me for every one of the fake me.) As a result, I get the occasional email or phone call sent to the "wrong" Donnie Richards.
  • At Fort Sam Houston, circa 1964:

    "Richards! Phone call in the Orderly Room."

    Several moments later: "Specialist Richards."

    Young Female Caller: "Donnie, I need you to pick me up at the airport, flight yada yada yada, arriving yada yada yada. I can't *wait* to see you."

    Alas, there were two of us. With the same middle initial, even. And this was his wife. (We used the same San Antonio bank and *twice* checks were charged to the wrong account.)

  • At a small junk mail company, circa 1984:

    Receptionist: "Donnie, phone call for you at the front desk."

    A moment later: "Donnie Richards."

    Caller (an elderly woman): "You're not Donnie Richards."

    Donnie: "I assure you that I am. But not, it appears, the Donnie Richards you wish to reach."


  • About two weeks later:

    Receptionist: "Donnie, phone call for you at the front desk."

    A moment later: "Donnie Richards."

    Caller (the elderly woman): "You're not Donnie Richards."

    Donnie: "Madam, you told me that a couple of weeks ago. Again, I assure you that I am. But if you persist long enough, you may convince me otherwise."

    But she was a sprinter, not a long distance runner, and I never heard from her again.

  • At home, circa 1998:

    An email arrived at my Hotmail address, inviting me to get together with the sender and several of her girlfriends. This was a forwarded version of the email that scheduled the gathering, and the festivities would be in the Portland, Oregon area, while I was in Chicago. Melody, a friend and former employee, was among the names on the distribution list. The sender professed nothing short of bliss at having met me the preceding week and a desire to see me again.

    I replied, expressing regret and frustration that I could not attend, then informing her that I lived in Chicago and was probably not her intended recipient.

    She replied, "Oh, sorry. But I know who you are. Your're the one Melody calls 'The Old Man.'"

    I responded, wishing her a good time with her friends and asking her to pass my regards on to "The Brat."

  • At IBM, circa 2000:

    There were *three* of us with the same name in the IBM email directory. In addition to getting the occasional misaddressed work-related email, I received:

    • An invitation to join a group in barhopping after a wedding reception in San Francisco. This was from a charming young woman and I amused myself by lecturing her on the dangers of emailing strange men, informed her that I was old enough to be her father, and declined regretfully. She responded, saying she wished I *could* make it, as I was clearly more fun than the "other" Donnie Richards.

    • A smutty joke from a woman in Colorado. There was a personal message as well, so I replied and informed her that she had reached someone other than the Donnie she intended. I told her to not to worry, that every Donnie Richards had a good sense of humor and this would be our little secret. She replied with a textual sigh of relief and a "thank you."

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