In junior high, I once had a conversation with a friend who told me I didn’t “look like a Matthew”. I responded by asking what exactly a Matthew looked like. She said she didn’t know, but in her opinion I looked more like a Shawn. I quickly did a roll call of all the Shawn’s I knew at the time: Connery, Wayans, Penn, Combs, Kemp, Bradley. Not a lot of similarities.
It was a ridiculous argument, but one that stuck with me. I don’t believe anyone can look like a name. Names are generic. Granted, I’ve never met anyone named Roscoe with blonde hair and blue eyes but you get my point.
Fast forward to the present day, where I think my friend may have had a point. At least once a week, I get called by the wrong name. It seems that instead of Matthew or Shawn, it seem I should have been named Michael.
At first, I chalked it up to coincidence. Every once in awhile, I’d introduce myself to someone and they’d call me Michael. I don’t always speak as clearly as I should. Mistakes happen.
Then, I started to notice it was happening on a regular basis. I had a classmate in college who called me Michael for almost an entire semester. I would have corrected her, but I had no clue what her name was either. We sat next to each other and talked all the time. It wasn’t until we did a group assignment and she saw my name on the paper we wrote that she realized her error. I graciously accepted her apology and never admitted I didn’t know her name until just then. I’m a good person.
The name confusion is especially annoying at work. I work in retail where I am forced to wear a name tag. Name tags, I have been told, are a way for customers to know who exactly is providing them with a wonderful experience. If only that were true.
I’m not sure what the current literacy rate is these days, but I suspect it may not be very high. My name tag reads “M-A-T-T-H-E-W”, but is consistently pronounced “Mahy-kuhl”. This includes not only customers, but co-workers as well.
I used to have a co-worker who routinely called me Michael. The strange thing is she would occasionally call me Matthew as well. I corrected her a few times but she had the IQ of a kumquat. It was a losing battle.
The tipping point came one day as I was giving a short presentation to some corporate muckity-mucks who happened to be in the neighborhood. I was charming and witty as usual. When I was done, they clapped and a few people thanked me for my time. Not only did a few people call me Michael but one guy called me Mario. Mario.
I’ve never been too particular about my name up until now. I spent most of my senior year of high school being called Steve by a large portion of my classmates. The only difference was they knew my real name. Steve was just a nickname. An odd nickname, but a nickname nonetheless.
I don’t believe in violence, but I know some people who do. So…I just want to make sure we are clear: My name is Matthew. You can call me Matt. My name is NOT Michael.