People are always forgetting my name. It's fine, I'm used to it. I once had an entire conversation with someone from my hometown who thought I was Sabrina. He said, "Sabrina! How are you?!" when we saw each other at a restaurant and I didn't have the energy to correct him. If I had known that the conversation was going to last 20 minutes, of course I would have said something immediately. But I thought it was just a quick hello so I said, "Good thanks, you?"
And then he came over to my table.
Thus began the slippery slope of identity theft.
I answered the first few general questions honestly. My summer was going well. I was enjoying the food. I had indeed, eaten there before. And then he started talking about Ithaca. And I started lying. I know how crazy this seems. Trust me. But he had said "Sabrina" at least seven times by this point and I hadn't corrected him. After answering as Sabrina and repeatedly responding to Sabrina, how could I suddenly say, "Oh, I'm not her." I just kept hoping that every question he asked was going to be the last and he would walk away and there would be no harm done. When he started asking personal questions about Sabrina, I felt compelled to answer as her. It was sort of a no turning back now moment that kept getting worse. I started to get watery eyes and that tingle in my nose that tells me I'm about to burst out laughing when he kept asking about my singing. The only thing that was going through my head was, "Goooo away!!! Please just walk away now!!!"
Eventually my dad arrived at the table saying hello and my heart sank, knowing that my attempts to save this man and myself from an incredibly awkward moment were in vain. Everything was about to come crumbling down. There was no look in the world that I could use to convey the situation to my dad. To tell him in a single glance, "Dad, don't say anything else. Just say 'Nice to see you.' He thinks I'm Sabrina. It's a long story, but I've been pretending that I am and I just talked about my singing voice for the last 5 minutes. Please, Dad."
No. There's nothing like that with my father. Of course he asked what he had missed and when the man pointed to me and said, "I was just talking about your daughter's beautiful singing voice!" I closed my eyes, knowing what was about to happen. My dad tilted his head and said, "Well, Jessie doesn't sing."
I breathed in deeply.
Man: Sabrina. I was complimenting Sabrina on her voice.
Dad: Well that's Jessica. Sabrina's not home right now.
And then I died a little.
Embarrassed, the man asked me why I hadn't corrected him and I couldn't give him the real answer (I was just hoping you would go away) so I played it off like I had misunderstood him. It was terrible. But honestly, I was trying the whole time to avoid embarrassing him. I know how backwards it seems but that was my reasoning.
Anyway, you'd think after this happened years ago I'd be better about correcting people when they get my name wrong, but I'm still just as bad. There's this tiny old Chinese woman who works in Laundry where I work and for the first 3 months she couldn't remember my name. She always asked. It was very cute. And then the next day she'd look at me meekly and ask, "Who are you, again?"
One day, about six months ago, she shouted from down the hall, "Hi, Jen!" It was the most confident she'd ever been with my name. It was wrong, obviously, but came from a good place. Something must have clicked in her that said, "That's Jen! You know her! Say hello!" And these are the exchanges I've had with her ever since.
-Good morning, Jen!
-Morning, Mee Sou.
-Going home, Jen?!
-Yes I am, Mee Sou.
-Good for you, Jen!
What am I going to say?
Again, this wouldn't present a problem at all except that she works in LAUNDRY-- where all my dry-cleaning is. So when I see her in the morning I wince a little knowing I won't be getting my pants.
-Hi, Jen! You need your dry-cleaning?
-Yes please, Mee Sou.
Then I watch as my shirts and pants fly by on rotation with the giant label I can see clearly from across the counter: JESSICA MARTIN.
This happens 3 times before she turns around with a little frown to say, "Sorry, Jen! Not here yet."
And then I just wait for her to walk away before going back there to pick it up myself.