I attend parties in Dubai. I pick up after weddings, especially weddings where the bride and groom have trouble lighting the unity candle. I fly from London to Salt Lake City. I take Musical Theater and/or Dance Fusion. I’ve rented cars in Dallas. I’ve put down deposits on apartments. I receive recipes, offensive e-mail forwards, and pictures of total strangers’ kids.
Why? Because my name is common. And while I myself am not doing any of that stuff, somewhere in this world is another Jenny Brown doing that stuff. Or, rather, many Jenny Browns doing that stuff. Because my gmail account—which I’ve had to more or less abandon—is full of e-mail that was sent to me by mistake. I thought I was so clever getting to gmail fast enough to get jennybrown at gmail.com. Little did I know it was one of the dumbest things I’ve done on the Internet.
I keep the account because I use it as a way to back up my writing. I have a program that syncs up my computer every now and then with some offline computer (I picture something very 1960s, a room full of computers spewing out punch cards), but I find it helpful to e-mail myself my work in progress as a safety measure. Also, because I can access gmail from any computer, I can get to my work in progress from anywhere.
About once a month or so I go in there to clean out my account, to see what the other Jenny Browns of this world are up to. A lot of them shop, because I’m forever getting store notices for places they registered at. And apparently a significant number of Jenny Browns are British, because I keep getting things that are priced in pounds. I’ve gotten receipts. I’ve gotten notifications of plane tickets. What would happen if I showed up and took one of those flights? My name would match that on the ticket, after all.
When an e-mail comes from a person, I try to do the right thing and let them know that they have the wrong e-mail address. Sometimes that bites me in the butt.
This is an honest to goodness exchange I’ve had on my gmail account:
Someone replied to this e-mail, which was sent from a Jenny Brown who has an initial in her e-mail address.
Hello Troop Leaders,
We will have a meeting on [date] in [place]. This will be in preparation for our first troop meeting o.
Agenda to follow~
I will be leading this meeting since it will be L’s first day in her new position as TA!! Congratulations L.
Someone wanted to reply. But instead of hitting “reply,” the responder typed in the e-mail address, leaving out the “D” so it came to me:
I;m really sorry but I am working please can you arrange future meetings on Thursdays as I don’t work them.
I hope it goes well
Feeling kind, I responded: You have the wrong email address. Looks like you forgot the d.
She replied: Thanks. What does D stand for?
Me: I don’t know as I’m not her.
E-mailer: Now you’ve got me completely confused!
I spelled it out for the poor woman: I got your original email by mistake. You sent an email to [address] instead of [address], which is where the original email came from. I don’t know Jenny D. Brown and I don’t know you. Hope that clears it up.
I prefer it when they get belligerent, like this one from today:
e-mailer: The only flight that will get you [...long explanation of flights]
me: You have the wrong email address.
e-mailer: What is this Jenny? I have been using this email address for some time. I started with grandmann and swathed pjsieger once you knew my name.
I don’t even know what that means! And that would have been the end of it, except that last night, there was another e-mail. After getting it, I had to ask Adam, “Is he for real or is he putting me on?” I honestly don’t know at this point:
Hi. my love
I know it’s you Jenny and why are you doing this. I don’t know what I did to make you do this and I am not going to assume to why ether. You know I will not give up on you and if you really want to end are relationship. Just say so.
You know I love you and I will always be here for you JennyThere is no other woman that I want but you.
Your price for life Paul
My favorite, though, is the guy I e-mailed that he had the wrong address and he responded:
No, I don’t. You told me not to e-mail you at your work e-mail.
Of course. If you do want to reach me, the best way is that e-mail address on the side of the blog. Otherwise, you might be waiting a long time for a response. And it might come from another Jenny Brown.