Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Identity Crisises and Other Misadventures


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I thoroughly enjoyed your comments yesterday on my "Dominatrix with a leather whip identity crisis," but I must say Dee 's discovery that she had the same name as a very famous sex therapist in Scotland....with several books to her credit....made me laugh, as well!

It reminded me of my own mix-ups and even stolen identity problems that I have had with my own 'real' name.( The End of the Internet, Leather Whips, and Other Surprises) I think of myself as having a somewhat unusual name. Michele with one 'l', and a french last name that is hard to spell.....and even more challenging to pronounce. Yet, I discovered...about 15 years ago...... that there was a young girl, here in Salem, with the same name as myself. She has two 'l's' in her Michele, but the last name, while pronounced differently...is still spelled the same.

I am not related to this young girl...unless it predates the Oregon Trail, but I have been mixed up with her...sometimes to my chagrin, but often to my horror...many times.

It started when she was in grade school and left her keys at soccor practice. A number of people called me to make arrangements to return them to me. They found them on the soccor field with a Salem Soccor Association key ring with her name on it. So, they looked in the phone book and found 'my' name. Assuming, that (as a young girl) she most likely had a house key on that key ring...in order to get into her house, after practice...just think how unsafe that might have been.... if someone had actually given her keys away to a stranger!

That same year, I was sent her large overdue library fines. I was then auto-dialed...repeatedly...by the library, when I continually failed to pay them. I had no interest in paying someone else's fines.....especially on Jr. High books! This went on, auto-redial after redial, for weeks on end until I finally phoned the library and convinced them that I was me, and she was she!

Next, her insurance company phoned me....week after week, month after month, for almost an entire year. 'My' payments were overdue and they were not happy about it. Try convincing an insurance company that you don't have their kind of insurance, you're not the person and you don't really owe them any money. Especially, when somewhere down the line, they needed an updated mailing address and phone number for her..... and again, had simply looked in the phone book and used mine!!!

Now, those events weren't so bad. I could live with them. But within a few years, 'My' name was splattered across the newspapers doing all kinds of naughty things. 'I' had jumped into the open window of a moving car, trying to wrestle a cell phone out of the hand of 'My' 19 year old 'boyfriend'. 'I' was discussing the newest skateboarding park....and so on. Always with quotes that weren't quite up to my grammar or syntax, and usually involving nefarious activities ;)

Bit by bit, my ladies at the large PTA meetings were beginning to look at me a little differently. They knew my name...just not me..... and I think they assumed that the two 'l' Michelle must be my daughter...which was almost as difficult to think that they assumed......then if they thought it was truly me. The same thing began to happen with people that I did know. Again, I could always sense them wanting to ask 'how my daughter was'. And of course, she wasn't mine.

It got worse. I began to get collect calls from the Oregon State Penitentiary. Three times in three years. Each time, they asked for 'Me' and each time the request was the same.......'Could I give them a ride 'home' from the Pen? Needless to say, I could not. I did not accept the collect call, you understand, but I couldn't hang up fast enough, either. Caller ID informed me with no uncertainty, that it was indeed the Oregon State Penitentiary that had dialed me. At one point, I finally decided that 'my' name and phone number must be up on the bathroom walls or that 'she' had very poor taste in boyfriends. Either that, or just one fellow who was continually being re-jailed. All I knew was that he needed a ride home, didn't get one from me and for all I know, is staring at that State Pen bathroom wall today...wondering why 'I' let him down.

The absolute 'frosting on the cake', was the time that my husband and I were awakened at 1:00 in the morning. I groggily picked up the phone "Hello? A strange voice asked if I was 'Me'...and I said yes...assuming that I was 'me'. I wasn't.

The woman began absolutely screaming at 'Me'. "How dare you chase after my son, like this?" she wanted to know. She screamed and she yelled and she called 'Me' a few names. By this time, you see 'I' had aged into 'my' twenties...so her son was a younger man and 'I' was older woman. What the strange woman, his mother, didn't realize, was that 'I' was a whole lot older. Old enough, in fact, to have been her son's mother!

I tried valiantly to convince her that I was I was the one 'l' Michele and not the two 'l' Michelle. It took her a very, very, long time to calm down. I told her that I was middle aged, had three children, was happily married and frankly, that I was just plain too tired to be having an affair with her son.

Oh, it goes on and on. Things with this young lady and her mix-ups with me, seemed to have calmed down, some. Well, if you ignore the collection companies and lawyers that I now have to convince over the phone that they truly do have the wrong number. Collection companies, of course, get told that over and over again. It doesn't matter how convincing you are...or even if you are telling the truth!

I met my identity crisises grandmother once, and she was extremely nice. She was a clerk in a store and saw my name on my credit card and brought up the subject of my having the 'same' name as her grandaughter. I learned that the young girl's mother had been and still was, a drug addict. That she had abandoned her daughter, two weeks after her birth, and that the 'other Michelle' had been raised by her grandparents.

After hearing this, what could I say? I never told the sweet grandma all of my horror stories. I figured she had enough on her mind, far too much on her plate, and that she truly needed any peace of mind, caring and kindness, that she could get.

I just told her...."I know, I get mixed up with other Michele's, all the time."

P.S.
The quilter, who comments on blogger......who's siggy is 'Michele'.......that's not me, either. I use Quilting Journey.....and apparently, for a very good reason!

7 comments:

  1. "Clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right..." kept running thru my head as I read your post.

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  2. I forgot to say in my e-mail to you-I can sing too!! Let me know when we go on the road.
    Wow, these are some stories. I guess it happens more often than we would like to think but since your name is unusual, it's really creepy for you.
    I hope you've heard the last of this confusion. The one from the Penetentiary is kinda scary!

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  3. We also have a very unusual French last name but at one point, before computers, someone with a very similar last name cashed a cheque and the teller took the money out of our account. Too bad your alter ego is such a loser.

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  4. Wow, this is scary.

    I wonder if the Quilt Police go knocking on Michelle's door instead of yours.

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  5. Too bad you were too tired for that lady's son - or perhaps it's just as well - how embarrassing though :o)

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  6. That was hilarious but I'm sure quite a lot of a headache for you! My mom was always getting mail and once even a refrigerator, delivered to her since her address was North and the other people were South!

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  7. Ouch -- ya know, I've had similar things happen to me. Though, I do know my "name twin" and well -- she's pretty cool about the fact that I get credit for her good deeds. Then again -- she's my Mom so...the whole name confusion is at least partially her fault!

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.