Contemplation: Where No One Knows Your Name

Sometimes this is how I feel at work.  Sure, it is a little bit of an exaggeration, there are definitely some people who know my name, however there are a good many number of people who very often call me “Jonathan” regardless of my repeated attempts to correct them and point out that, as my name tag very clearly says, my actual name is “Nathaniel.”

Here is the background.  Prior to my coming to work here there was a guy named Jonathan who worked in the same building as I.  For about the first year I was employeed both Jonathan and I worked in the same building but then he took a positition at another location (still same employer) while I remained.  I have now worked at this job for almost four years and Jonathan has not worked at this location for almost three years.  He does come by this location on occasions, but not all too often, probably less than even once a month.

At first I just kind of shrugged at being misnamed and thought, “Well I’m new and people just might not know me that well yet.”  But now, years later, I am getting to the point where it just feels ridiculous.  I like to think that I should be very well known now seeing as my job requires my direct interaction with almost all other staff members (Jonathan still works with a lot of people, but far less or less often than I currently do).  Furthermore, people who have had more exposure to me than to Jonathan (because he had already left this location by the time they started working here) also confuse my name, which I just find odd.

Anyway, here I my suspected reasons why I may be misnamed so often.

  • We’re both Male:  This is true, we are both male human beings and considering that when I first started working here there were relatively few males this is a reasonable assumption for why confusionmight occur.
  • We both have long names which we do not shorten to more common forms: Jonathan has 8 characters and Nathaniel has 9, and both have more common shorter versions (John for Jonathan; Nate or Nathan for Nathaniel) however we both use the full long names.
  • Long Hair:  As male hair styles go both of ours would be deemed long (especially here in South Carolina
  • Similar Dressing Styles: I can see how our general dressing styles could be viewed as similar to one another.
  • Age: While Jonathan is older than me I think that we both fall on the younger side of the age spectrum of all the employees here
  • Others:  There may be other reasons for the confusion that I cannot think of at this time.

Here now are my refutations of why I find it odd that I am so often misnamed (focusing first on direct refutations to tha above).

  • There are a lot more males now:  While there were not as many male employees when I first started working here the number has greatly increased over the past several years so that I would assume confusion based solely on gender would not be a main factor.
  • Our Names might be long but they don’t sound that similar:  At least I don’t feel like Jonathan and Nathaniel sound that similar (I don’t know, maybe it is the “than” parts of the names).
  • My hair is longer and worn differently:  While we both have longish hair for guys, mine is far longer.  Also, I always wear my hair tied back, whereas Jonathan’s is not really long enough to do that and I have never seen him wear it that way.
  • We don’t dress identically:  Admittedly, workplace casual dress does have a tendency to be relatively uniform for male employees everywhere, but i do think I dress a bit differently, especially in my habit of almost always wearing a hoodie sweatshirt (even when sporting a tie), I don’t know that anybody else wears hoodies all that regularly here.
  • Jonathan is definitely older:  I am not saying he’s a grandpa, he is still a young fellow, but he is defiitely older than ma, especially considering the people regularly knock about five years off my actual age (yesterday a patron was shocked when I told her I was about to turn 27, she thought I was only 21 at most).
  • Facial hair:  I sport facial hair (albeit not the best facial hair) and Jonathan does not.  I’ve kept the facial hair for over a year and a half now and I have never seen him wering facial hair (not saying that he hasn’t, but just that I’ve never noticed it).
  • Glasses:  I wear glasses and Jonathan does not, enough said.
  • I’m shorter:  Not much so, but I definitely am.
  • We work in entirely different positions:  We have never had the same positions and we interact with co-workers on entirely differnet matters.   Our jobs are not ever really that similar.
  • Others:  I could probably go on with additional little differences but I think you get the point.

Now I don’t feel really mad about this misnaming and I don’t blame Jonathan or anybody else, I just find it bizarre and a little sad.  I admit that I am not the best with names myself and I know I have misnamed people before but usually it is a one time thing and then I am pretty good at remembering the name.  In my being misnamed case it is often the same individuals time and again even after having been corrected on many occassions.  Some of the people are people I work with directly.  All and all it makes me wonder if I have failed to significantly establish myself at my workplace that I am so easily confused with another person, while, alternately, I just assume that the people being confused are just missing something or forgetful.

Anyways, that is all.  It is an odd on going thing . . . my name is definitely Nathaniel . . . not Jonathan  . . . just sayin’

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~ by Nathaniel on May 27, 2011.

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