One way people demonstrate they don’t really care that much about you, or what you’re trying to tell them, is if they get your name wrong.
Readers of this feature likely know that I have a brother named Paul. Paul is a fine fellow and some of his exploits have been chronicled in this space. Paul has a nice job and a nice home in Appleton, Wisconsin. Paul married exceptionally well (a family trait, I might add) and he and his wife Heidi have three fine young children. Paul is an ancillary footsoldier in the Bill Gates army; his company provides corporate training on Microsoft applications to companies needing such expertise. Paul is an excellent teacher, a fine communicator and all in all a pretty good guy. Everyone who knows Paul thinks pretty highly of him. If they don’t, they are clearly mistaken. I would conclude this paragraph of fulsome praise by saying that I admire my brother greatly, especially now that the statute of limitations has long run on some of his more youthful indiscretions.
I am not Paul. But you would have a hard time convincing some people I’ve dealt with in recent weeks. On three separate occasions someone I’m in communication with has addressed me as Paul. I’m not sure if somehow I give off some essence of Paulness, whatever that might be, but the frequency of it makes me wonder. I’ve also been called Mike more than a few times; as it happens I also have a brother named Mike, who is a fine fellow in his own right. This is understandable, as Mark and Mike are fairly similar names and the woods are full of 40ish dudes named Mike (and Mark for that matter). But there aren’t that many Pauls.
The one person who always seemed to get names mixed up was my dad. But his tendency was to call out everyone’s name until he got to the kid whose attention he wanted. Sometimes he really wanted the dog, but the roll call would go out anyway – “MarkPatPaulCarolMargaretMichael… no, Peaches, I want you, dawg!” Since I’m the oldest, at least my name always got mentioned; that’s something, I suppose.
I’m not sure what it all means – it may not mean anything. But it’s not exactly an ego boost to have someone address you by your brother’s name. At least no one is calling me Peaches. Not yet, anyway.