I have had a Gmail account for a long time. I know, we all have. But I mean, a long time. I bought my Gmail account invitation on Ebay when you still had to have an invitation to get an account. It’s a standard firstname.lastname account, and if you don’t know, the period in the middle doesn’t matter – the firstnamelastname version belongs to me as well. If you have a period in your Gmail account name, the same is true for you – anything written to either version comes to you.
Anyway. I guess my maiden name is a common name. Not super common, like you meet a firstname.lastname combination every day, but common enough that there’s not only more than one other one out there, but more than one other one out there who COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY BELIEVES that she owns my email address.
You might think that this is an annoying problem – and it is. I get signed up for a lot of mailing lists that have nothing to do with me and do not appeal to me in any way. The other mes shop in a lot of places that are not my style. So I have to unsubscribe. A lot.
There are these occasional lists, though, where you can’t unsubscribe unless you log in. And you can’t log in without your password. And you can’t get your password unless you answer your challenge question. WHAT THE HELL. I JUST WANT TO UNSUBSCRIBE. FINE. ALUMNI NEWSLETTER FOREVER. But, actually, if you’re a person who doesn’t know your email address, you should probably be grateful for that kind of email list. As you will see.
I know what you’re thinking. These people just give out a throwaway address and I happen to be catching the brunt of it. Poor me, oh well.
If that was true, I wouldn’t be helpfully responding to work emails. To requests for JOB INTERVIEWS. To others mes’ children’s TEACHERS. Oh, so helpfully, because you know me, that’s just who I am. “Hi, I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but the person who gave you this email is confused, it does not belong to her. Good luck!”
Other mes, I’ve seen your grandparents’ vacation photos. TONS of them. I’ve replied, “Hey, not me,” once. A couple more arrived. I reply again. More. I reply all. “Hi, I’m sorry, you seem like a lovely family, but these are personal photos and I’m a stranger, please remove me from this email chain.” MORE. Soon, the whole family is replying. “GRANDMA. THAT’S NOT KELLY.” “But that’s the email she gave us!” Well, then I must be a big lying liar.
Seriously, though, lovely photos.
In addition to photos, I get some painfully personal emails. I know I shouldn’t read them, but I can’t look away. It’s like a train wreck. And it’s in MY EMAIL account! You can’t send a naked person to dance in my living room and then get upset when I look at him. But I don’t respond to those. I can’t. I don’t want those people to know a stranger read it. I just leave it to the other idiot me to explain why she never responded. That’s her problem.
“I never got an email from you. I don’t understand. I gave you the email address I never actually signed up for that I give to everyone else. Why does my email never get to me? I mean, it’s not like I can actually log in to that account, or can actually receive email at the address I keep giving to people. I just don’t understand what the disconnect is here. Give me a second, I’ll put it together… almost got it… nope. Just slipped away.”
You know what made me feel really bad recently? When I kept getting activation emails from Club Penguin, telling me to activate my child’s account so he could play. And they kept coming in with the user name changed by one number. But I couldn’t do it! I didn’t have the information needed! Child! Your mother is an idiot! She’s giving you an email address to enter for her approval, and then waiting for the email to arrive at a DIFFERENT ADDRESS. I wish I could help you. I WISH YOU COULD PENGUIN.
Ok, let’s review. You’re another me, one who doesn’t actually know your own email address. You regularly sign yourself up for mailing lists on topics that interest you, and for coupons and sale alerts at stores where you shop. In fact, this morning, you went to Sports Authority and signed up for a store loyalty card. I know, because I happened to be checking my email when you did it. I immediately went to unsubscribe, because you can’t let these things pile up.
But this wasn’t one of those lists with a simple “click to unsubscribe” link. Nope, I had to log into “my” account. So I requested “my” password, and just like that, I was in. Because “my” password was sent to MY email account, of course. Oh, look, a $5 reward coupon. Thanks, other me. And oh… your phone number.
That’s not the first time your ridiculous mistake has given me access to whatever the hell I want, other me. One time, one of the other mes was getting married, and she registered at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Do you KNOW how many emails that store sends when you create your wedding registry there? I do, because I did it when I was ACTUALLY GETTING MARRIED. Do you also know how easy it is to take control of a wedding registry when you’re just… handed control? Because the person with the email on the account is the one in control. Adding ugly dishes and expensive high chairs to your wedding registry was the only way to communicate with you, other me. Sorry I’m not sorry.
Not all the other mes are bad people. For example, while I was writing this, one of them – in Virginia – filled out a petition and letter to her representatives to strengthen Virginia’s texting while driving ban. A noble cause. I can get behind that. It was one of those things that has a prewritten letter, and fills in your name for you. And your full address and phone number.
Sports Authority me lives in Southern Michigan. Texting while driving banner me lives in Virginia. There’s a me in Wisconsin who gives my email to professional colleagues AND car dealerships. There’s one in Ocean City, Maryland who got asked out on a date by a sweet guy named Randy. I was polite when I turned him down. I think there’s even one in Australia? And then a bunch, or maybe just overlaps, who are just FLOATING IDIOTS.
The one who occasionally sends an email from a hotmail account that just says, “test?” I always write back “NOT YOUR EMAIL.” She doesn’t respond.
The one who keeps setting up a Twitter account that I have to keep deleting, which, let me tell you, IS A PAIN IN THE ASS.
The one whose college friends decided to set up a “super fun blog!” together and are COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS to my repeated demands that they STOP EMAILING, necessitating that I create more and more elaborate email filters that they keep finding their way around.
I’ve HELPED someone CHASE ANOTHER ME DOWN and sort out a situation so other me could return a pair of boots. AS IF IT WAS AT ALL MY RESPONSIBILITY. And that wasn’t a unique situation. “Well, this is the email I was given” is not unusual in my inbox. Just typing that makes my pulse throb against the top of my skull.
THE POINT OF THIS ALL IS: If you do not know your email address, YOU ARE ANNOYING THE SHIT OUT OF SOMEONE.
No. Okay. Seriously.
THE REAL POINT OF ALL THIS IS: If you do not know your email address, and you are giving out a similar address to your own – say, mine, for the sake of lazy writing – I have your address, I have your phone number, I have your coupons. I have gotten frustrated and rearranged your wedding registry. I have been in contact – polite contact, but still – WITH YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER. I’ve talked to your work colleagues. I’ve seen family vacation photos. I have videos of YOUR FAMILY in MY EMAIL ACCOUNT. I can log in to things where you keep LOTS OF INFORMATION because I can just REQUEST PASSWORDS because YOU gave ME that access.
FIGURE. IT. OUT.
Should I be rearranging someone’s wedding registry? No. Of course I shouldn’t. But you shouldn’t be storing your crap in my space, either. I know there will be a lot of proponents of just ignore it, just delete it, just don’t mess with it, and for the most part, I do. But there are upwards of four or five OTHER MES out there, and they are treating a space that I own (“space” and “own”) as if it is theirs. And it’s not. It’s mine. It’s for me, and for my stuff, and it’s not for you or your stuff. You can’t put your stuff in my space. And you should not be putting your personal shit in a stranger’s space. I am a GOOD stranger. All I did was add ugly dishes and baby crap to a wedding registry. I am a GOOD stranger. A GOOD one. There are BAD ones, okay?
Now, if anyone can tell me anything more about Gmail and the intricacies of fname.lname/fnamelname account issues, and why a person may be SO VERY CONVINCED they own an account they can’t send mail to, cannot log into, and can in no way access at all, I am very, VERY open to hearing them. Explain the mystery to me. Because otherwise, I’m very glad I took my husband’s name, because all the other maiden name mes are just making it look no good.
PS – Should I text some of them? Because I admit it, I want to so badly. It would go like this. “Stop it! Stop it! STOP IT!”