Temerity Jane
29. 01. 2013

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!”

88 responses to “YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.”

  1. Hannah says:

    I would definitely text (or call so you can block your number) the ones for whom you have numbers and tell them, “Hey. Your shit. My space. Stop.”

  2. Suzanne says:

    This reminded me that I had tried to get FirstnameMarriedname@gmail.com but it was taken so I used FirstnameMiddleInitialMarriedname, although I only have it for when I am embarrassed to use my blog email or my ancient hotmail account that sounds like porn spam. I haven’t checked the account in AGES but now I am going to and home for lots of other mes juicy email secrets.

    (Update: No secrets. Just lots of stupid newsletters.)

  3. Carrie says:

    I got lucky and got carriep@gmail.com as my e-mail address.

    NOT SO LUCKY.

    Every Carrie P. in the universe uses that e-mail so I have had to abandon it. I would totally call those idiots up and read them the riot act if it was only a few and it would do any good. I seriously do not comprehend why they are giving out your e-mail to people they want to hear from. My brain just. . . dies.

  4. craftyashley says:

    FOUR people?! That is crazy. I have two email accts, one that I give to people I want to talk to, and my spam email that I give to the bed bath and beyond people. But I OWN both accounts! How hard is it to figure out email? Insane.

  5. phancymama says:

    In college, I had the same name (minus an “e”, think Browne vs Brown) as one of the nurse practitioner’s in the student health center. Our emails were different, univ.edu vs univhealth.edu, and we were in totally different directories. And still I got phone calls and emails from students wondering about their health test results–typically those of a very personal nature. Left on our dorm room phone!

  6. Jenny says:

    Just chiming in with a “me too”–although not on the scale some of you are experiencing, I must say. I thought my last name was fairly unusual–heck, nobody pronounces it right–but preceded with J, it seems to be common as dirt. I got somebody’s U-haul arrangements once. Thanks for addressing this–maybe Google will do something about it!

  7. Issa says:

    I have tears rolling down my face from the baby items on the wedding registry line. Cannot stop laughing.

    As someone with a very very very common first, middle and last name (three me’s at my pharmacy for crying out loud) I am with you. I get emails all the freaking time that do not belong to me. I feel like I unsubscribe to Land’s End about three times a day.

    You still win for the baby items. Heh.

  8. JCF says:

    This is a good reminder why having an extremely unusual first and maiden name is helpful at times. However, my husband has a very common first name and a decently common last name, and he has a big problem with this. I’ll make up a new name, but the gist is that his email address us james.smith@gmail.com, and someone else uses jamesssmith@gmail.com (note that there’s a THIRD s–for a middle initial stuck between james and smith. This guy signs up for so much crap with my husband’s email it is unbelievable. My husband has the guy’s full name, address, SSN, phone number, etc. He has seen bank account numbers. He has seen the guy’s resume. I keep telling him to mail the guy a physical letter, but he hasn’t yet. The guy was applying for a job at a big company that required him to set up an account for his application process, and it was linked to my husband’s email address. I mean, how much of an idiot can you be? And the guy is fairly young and a lawyer, so he’s got to be generally functional, at least a little bit, right?

  9. Christine says:

    This has been happening to me on my gmail account for the past 4 years or so. I get the most personal emails, recently about the rapid decline of an elderly family member. It’s in excruciating detail.

    More interestingly I get the emails for a Beverly Hill Realtor with the same name as me. She gets the best emails. I could easily rip off some multimillionaires as I have their account numbers, signatures, SSN and various other pieces of their person information. Who sends this stuff to a gmail account?

    Same Realtor hosted a birthday party for her sister. With a $60,000 price tag. That’s not a typo. Sixty thousand dollars. I saved the email and spreadsheet because, holy shit, that’s as close as I’m ever going to get to a party like that.

    On a brighter note I have “met” a lovely woman from North Carolina that is also very into hockey (I’m from the great white north).

    I had no idea my name was so common.

  10. stephanie says:

    I so feel your pain. I have been dealing with Stephanie LastNames who do not know their email address for years. (I, too, had an invite-only gmail account.) I’m not as polite as you… my standard response is just, “This was sent to the wrong email address.” I’ve gotten emails from kids’ teachers, from other me’s professors and classmates, from family members with photos, a damn church group that refuses to take me off their list no matter how many times I tell them I’m really not the person they want, from really stupid friends who cannot understand how I can email them from that address if it’s the wrong one. I’ve gotten flight confirmations. I’ve cancelled Instagram and Facebook and Twitter accounts. I get someone’s paystub EVERY DAMN WEEK, only there’s no email address to respond to and the actual paystub is (thankfully) locked, which only means I can’t even find out the company that’s sending it to let them know. I totally called a different company out for mailing me someone else’s tax forms, complete with address and bank info and SSN.

    Ugh, anyway, I could go on about this forever. Obviously.

    I have figured out that the main culprit is there’s usually supposed to be a middle initial between FirstNameLastName that gets left out, or sometimes a number at the end. Still, that’s not a good explanation for when the individual fills out the form herself!

  11. FrozenLaser says:

    HA! I laughed so hard I thought I’d cried! No seriously, I have the same problems as you. There are Me’s all over the world. I have receeved emails for, and I kid you not, Requests to do Cardiology lectures in Chicago, warnings about late rent FROM NEW ZEALAND, transmitted account numbers from England, poverty humanitarian mission confirmations in southern Africa, technical lighting advice requests from New York Theater companies, and oh yes the often needed car service updates from Toyota in North Carolina. One would think I’m a Jet Setter or something, but no, just a boring Laser Engineer in the north east. I really wish people would work out why it is they never get the coupons in their email like they asked for and just leave the rest of us boring people who know our email addresses the heck alone.

  12. Celie says:

    I think between your post and all these replies and comments that you have a small book to write! Great style in your writing… Definitely do a follow up post of what you have done that might be making a difference. Cheers!

  13. Kate says:

    I have exactly the same problem and it’s super irritating. I get all kinds of emails, often personal or important, from all over the world. WTF?

    Anyway, sometimes I call the doctor/store/whatever and tell them to disassociate my email address with the account. Sometimes I email the friends/associates/colleagues/wedding planning party and say this is not that Kate.

    And one time, I texted the person, because I had her phone number, and that was highly unsatisfying because she spent a long time on the “who are you” part of the conversation, and was completely unapologetic, and then asked me to forward her the relevant emails since she couldn’t see them.

  14. Hayley says:

    “I WISH YOU COULD PENGUIN” should be on a T-shirt or something.

  15. Cheryl says:

    Happened with my work email – I use firstname.lastname@company.com. Other “me” uses her middle initial, since I started with company first. I have gotten her email for a couple of years now – and some of it was so, so personal – she was not disclosing her investments outside of company (we work for a major bank), she was not performing up to her expected levels, she was not completing projects on time, and then she was fired. I got to see all that – and I sent many, many return emails to the originators, and to the other “me”, explaining the different name set-up. No one ever apologized for letting me see these emails, and requests for assistance from our IT department were ignored. Sad that I had to see all that, but we never met face to face as we work on opposite sides of the country. Don’t know if we could have looked each other in the eye if we had met. I really feel everyone’s pain!!!

  16. Dinsdale says:

    I’ve received emails about job interviews for a woman in London, a number of family photos of various birthdays, resumes, and (most excruciating of all) an email asking Other Me to testify in court about someone’s rehab so she could get her kids back. (I don’t usually respond, but did to that one, because lordie, I was NOT going to be responsible for someone losing their kids. Could you imagine?)

    I’m slightly concerned now, though, because my email is FirstInitialMiddleInitialLastName@gmail.com, and I’m wondering how many people have emailed FirstInitialLastName with my info instead. (Not that I GIVE OUT the wrong email address, but this thread has shown me people are UNIMAGINABLY stupid.)

  17. Amy says:

    My mom’s phone number was one digit off of a hair salon’s number. After umpteen calls from salon patrons, she started giving out appointments.

    My brother-in-law had a similar situation in which he started accepting pizza orders.

  18. shin ae says:

    I haven’t read the comments on this, and I’m excited to read through them all, but for now I want to say: GOOD GRIEF. This situation is ridiculous. I hope someone has a good suggestion for you.

  19. TC says:

    I wish I had a solution for you. I really, really do, because I have a last name that is only a little less common than say, smith, and only an initial before it. So my chances of having an idiot think they have this address are significantly increased.

    I recently apparently signed up for blackpeoplemeet.com, while I’m not opposed to meeting people of any race, I’m not sure this is how to get more diversity in my life.

    I’m also getting a satellite dish installed this weekend at my home in Kalamazoo, which I never knew I had.

    My favorite thing is when someone signs up for a NEW gmail account and uses this in the other email addresses list… I think they believe that they’re getting that address as well, when they’re giving me access to their account.

    I used to send a lot of frustrated ‘test failed’ to those ‘test’ messages, but I’ve pretty much given up.

    I did have a father convinced once that his son was imbibing on quite a lot of alcohol and illicit substances before deciding to come home. He was quite upset… I hope he was relieved when I told him his son wasn’t really driving high and drunk (oh, and texting), just to stupid to know his own email address. I’m not sure which would disappoint me more though.

    I guess just resign yourself to the fact that your email will be filled with crap from morons. Or switch email addresses, which I’m loathe to do, because it’s a pain, and i really like mine.

  20. Wow. I have never been more grateful to have an somewhat uncommon first and unbelievably uncommon last name. According to Google I am the only one of me that exists, which is a boon for stalkers but certainly keeps this situation to a minimum. (My email is firstinitial,lastname, so I get a few missent emails, but it’s pretty rare.)

    My husband has very common first and last names and it has led to many foibles, including being denied a rental car because of someone else’s shabby driving and almost being arrested for burglary. That was exciting.

  21. Scanderoon says:

    Man, I am so glad I have an uncommon last name! I’ll have to be careful if I ever marry someone with a common one, because there are an awful lot of Lindsays around.

    It’s such an exasperating problem for you, because there’s no real way to fix it!

  22. rebecca says:

    I have an extremely common last name, and I once had another me pick up my prescription accidentally! She may have been very disappointed it was merely prenatal vitamins. (I switched pharmacies, to a place that also needs your DOB.)

  23. I love that you added ugly shit to the wedding registry. Nice? Maybe not. Hilarious? Hell yes. Deserved? Probably. I’d be annoyed as shit if other mes started handing out my email!

  24. Jenny Grace says:

    I have a VERY COMMON NAME. So common that even though I have been on the internet simply FOREVER, it had to have been like, an actual google employee who got my firstnamelastname email address.

    So I don’t have this exact problem, ever.

    However, the commonness of my name means that I have TWICE been MERGED WITH OTHER MES in credit reports (no, I have never been married, I don’t live in Oregon, and don’t you have a control in place to keep MULTIPLE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS FROM BEING ASSIGNED TO ONE PERSON?). Also, there is another me at my dentist. And a me who uses my pharmacy.

    My dad had another him who had a warrant out for his arrest, and they had the same name down to middle initial, same basic physical description (height, hair color, etc), and same birth date. Except the guy who wasn’t my dad was a car thief. And my dad spent my sister’s high school graduation pulled into the police department for finger printing and such. And now he carries a letter in his car specifying that he is not the (still at large) car thief guy.

  25. Mary says:

    Thank you for this post. Thanks to you, I finally un-lazied enough to email back the man who has been sending me emails for years thinking I am his son.