I was an early adopter of gmail, back in college when it was invite-only and I was young and nerdy. At the time it made total sense to quickly snag my name as an email address since I was looking forward to a distant time when I would be putting it on a resume and putting “cheeriosxxx@example.com” just didn’t feel particularly professional. (Yes, there’s a reason I went by a brand of cereal, no, it’s not particularly profound, yes, if you address me by “cheers” I will still probably answer to it!) Anyway, being an early adopter meant that I was the first of what I would later discover are a whole legion of R Stanton’s to lay claim to a gmail address.

I was far from the last, though.

Fast forward a couple years, and the mis-addressed emails began to trickle in. Then a whole stream of them. Then a flood. I know about the Rebecca Stanton in New Jersey who is searching for a new car. I know about the Rogert Stanton (yes, that’s how he spells it) who orders pillows from a tiny upholstery shop in Colorado. I know about the Stanton in England who runs a Subway, the elderly Stanton who is signing up for his first Match.com profile, and the Stanton who is no longer welcome at his friends’ home anymore due to bad behavior. The quantity of personal information that is accidentally sent to me is absolutely astounding, especially because it is all down to people being sloppy with their own information.

This week has been a bit of a fun week for ridiculous mis-addressed emails, though. The first one I got that caught my attention was an email that simply read:

Hello Ms. Stanton,

You can send the copy of your invoice to this address. Thank you.

So… I did.

500 Words About - Other-Mes /img/invoice.png
My time is worth at LEAST $200/hour, right?

I hope when she reads it she is as amused as I was quickly creating it from a Pages template!

The second interesting email allows me to say that I have probably exchanged more emails with the Austin Police Department than anyone reading this, this week. An Other-Me was listed as a reference for a person applying to be an officer in Texas, and the police department politely contacted me to see what I had to say about him. Of course, I don’t actually know the gentleman in question, and had to point that out. This turned into one of my usual back and forth conversations about how dots in emails don’t actually matter, when it comes to gmail addresses, and that ’s.t.a.n.t.o.n’ is the same as ‘stanton’ in this case. The officer on the other end was quick to follow along, and very friendly about the whole thing. Props to you, Officer Lengefeld, thank you for one of the more pleasant versions of that conversation I’ve had!

Moral of the story, though, is to be careful when you are filling out contact information, especially when it is for the purpose of someone sending you something important. There’s nothing more embarrassing than mis-sending the notification that someone’s grandma passed away, but there’s nothing more dangerous to your identity than having your lawyer accidentally send workers comp forms with your full name, address, and SSN to a complete stranger. Protect your identity, it’s a pain in the ass when it gets stolen!

A twitter buddy of mine is committing to writing 500 words a day on some topic, and invited others to join her. Feel free to write alongside us, exercise those grammar muscles, and do a little wordsmithing. The hashtag on twitter is #500wordsAbout.