Before the Internet I had never run into another Brian Johns in my life. Since the advent of the Internet I’ve learned that there are MANY people named Brian Johns, and even more Johnses with the first initial ‘B.’
Being friends with one of the guys who designed gmail, I was able to get into gmail really early. That means I was lucky enough to get the obvious gmail address that you would get if you were named Brian Johns and wanted to follow the “first initial then last name” convention and I’m happy to have a short 6 letter gmail address for when I choose to use gmail. Many people out in the world think this is their email address when it really isn’t which leads to me getting a lot of email I shouldn’t.
It turns out I’m not the only person who has this happen. Here’s an article on Ars Technica about somebody having the same experience but taking a little bit further than me: http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2014/08/my-e-mail-war-taking-revenge-on-the-idiot-using-my-address/
Here is a partial (and growing) list of people who are not me, but apparently give out my email address thinking it is their own:
- Brian Johns, Canadian swimming superstar. I get email for swimmer Brian every few months. Usually it is light in nature but sometimes it’s about a job offering. Traffic for Brian Johns increases around the Summer Olympics. I don’t currently have Brian Johns’s email address so I can’t forward email for him. I try to reply to the senders explaining their mistake because it seems like the right thing to do. I would love to meet him someday and since he comes to our swim meet at Santa Clara every year it might actually happen.
- Brian Johns, Apple employee. I was an intern at Apple a long time ago. Imagine my shock when I found there was someone with the same name as me working just a couple buildings over! Your work email and mine were very similar so I used to get work email for you but I don’t have that email address anymore.
- Brian Johns, Dayton Ohio Policeman. I don’t get much email for policeman Brian but he was responsible for issuing a lot of press releases at one time which made setting a Google Alert for myself worthless.
- Barbara C. Johns. The Naturalizer shoe company would like to thank you for being a loyal member. Your promo code is ANNV14USAOGUXBVS with them.
- B. Jhons. (Notice the two letters transposed) I called you up once when I received your weekend travel itinerary (with phone number and address) and we had an awkward conversation where I explained why I knew so much about you. We finally realized that you made your reservation over the phone and the clerk entered your email wrong and it happened to be mine. That was funny.
- email@example.com You are not me. Please stop trying to reset my password or link our email addresses.
- bjohns who coaches little league. I get a lot of your little league schedules. You probably aren’t getting them. Can you please bring extra juice boxes this weekend?
One possibility I’ve considered is that people are giving my email address out incorrectly, on purpose. It’s like giving fake digits to somebody at a party – I understand. You’re at the mall and you can get a free hair twirler or something if you give them your email address so you just give them mine. I realize that’s probably part of it.
But the people that amuse me the most are people who are legitimately wrong about THEIR OWN EMAIL ADDRESS. If you bought a plane ticket you probably meant to give them your real email. If you made a hotel reservation then you probably wanted to get a copy of it. You people really entertain me.