The Wrong Man


My email address is [my last name] Since my last name is a not terribly uncommon Irish name, every now and then I'll get emails intended for other people with my name, who are not me, and to whom I may or may not be related. This is sort of like when I was in college and my phone number was very similar to the number for the local Catholic Church, and every now and then I'd get calls asking for the mass schedule or asking if I would administer last rites to a dying relative.*

In the past year or so I've received an e-Christmas card, a confirmation for a gynecological appointment, and an email from a nun wishing someone named Kelly the best of luck as she began a new chapter in her life as a Catholic schoolteacher. These weren't very exciting.

But, this morning I checked my email to find what appeared to be an invitation to go to the zoo this Saturday. The tentative itinerary included a bird show, a seal show, and elephants from Thailand. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed when I realized that the zoo invitation was not for me, and even more disappointed when it turned out that the zoo in question is in Australia. I wrote back, expressing my regret at not being able to see the animals, because I'm the sort of fellow who does that sort of thing (sending substantive emails to strangers, not looking at animals). I'm now wondering what electronic misadventures my not-uncommon last name will bring forth next.

* Yes, this really happened, and yes, it totally ruined my day.


When I was a kid, our home phone number was similar to a local business called StudioPhone. I have no idea what they actually did. Our numbers were the same except that they had a 98 in their number while we had 89. I would say that we got at least 5 calls a week that were wrong numbers.

For about 10 years, no one else in my family ever had the luck (misfortune) to answer one of these wrong numbers asking for StudioPhone. They thought it was a long term joke on my part. It was frustrating and mildly annoying when I wasn't quite believed.

10 years.

Finally, I went to college and one day my mom told me that she picked up a wrong number call for StudioPhone. I felt vindicated.

They've since changed their number or gone out of business.

I thought this story related to your post...maybe it doesn't.

I'm so glad I'm not the only one to whom this happens! I try to be nice about it and write back letting the sender know that they have the wrong address, but I am also irritated that people seem to just assume that if your name is John Smith and you have a gmail account, then your address must be, without bothering to actually look it up in their address books. Also (and this probably happens to you as well) I find that even when I respond, I get additional e-mails later on from the same person making the same mistake!

If you are still in need of consolation you could try the Oakland Zoo, it's really a very good one.

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This page contains a single entry by hb published on March 9, 2007 11:48 AM.

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