It never fails:
“What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Melissa.”
“No, it’s Melinda.”
My first name isn’t challenging. It’s not even terribly uncommon. And yet on a regular basis, people erroneously call me Melissa (or Missy, Belinda, Matilda, Miranda, Minnie, etc.). I’m not even going to bother explaining the difficulties people find with my rather-simple last name. Suffice it to say it’s very similar to a certain Russian satellite, which leads to numerous spelling errors and a ridiculous amount of unnecessary references to the 1950s space object.
Whenever this mistake emerges, I can’t help but question if I’m to blame for their blunder. Did my enunciation fail? Was I speaking too softly? Is it possible I said the wrong name?**
But when an individual I speak to regularly – for work, especially – commits this gaffe, my annoyance goes through the roof and a blog post erupts.
As a journalist, you are strictly taught to ensure you have the correct spelling of someone’s name at all times. To go to print with an error in that person’s name is a rather huge error. Why exactly don’t people apply this rule to life in general? It’s one thing to mispronounce a name on the first meeting, maybe even the second. But when it’s the third encounter***, you should at least verify the name before slaughtering it and possibly causing some offense.
So who else has a name that’s often mistaken for another? What’s the craziest thing you’ve accidentally been called? And do any of you regularly face this problem, as I clearly do? Depending on the situation, I might correct an individual. How exactly do you react when this happens? And in all seriousness, is there something I should be doing differently to guarantee this doesn’t repeatedly occur? Or am I merely doomed for a long life of mistaken identity?
* Feel free to substitute this conversation with Mindy v. Missy or a multitude of other mistakes people consistently make.
** I did this once. Sad, but true.
*** Or the 15th and I just said my name when you answered the phone, yet you call me “Melissa” anyway when sending a followup email less than ten minutes later…
26 Comments so far
Leave a comment