I’m starting to think that something about me — or about my Google Mail address, specifically — intersects with a group of people who might be among the dullest knives in the drawer. A week doesn’t go by where I don’t receive at least a dozen misaddressed emails to that account; we’re not talking about spam, but rather we’re talking about long, personal emails from someone who’s letting me know that they’re moving to a new house, or sharing the pictures of the party we ostensibly attended together a few days ago, or even my favorite repeat offender, a mother who is passing on the odd bit of news to all her kids. I get full screenplays emailed to me for proofreading, I get confidential legal documents for my review, I even received a set of robo-calling scripts from the Democratic Party of Virginia a few weeks ago. All of these are misaddressed, intended for some other individual with an GMail address similar to mine. I even get people mistyping their own email addresses into web forms, such as all the confirmation emails I received from American Airlines last week for another J. Levine’s flight to London, or the bunch of forwards I got from another J. Levine’s corporate account two weeks ago (forwards which included truly awesome legal letters between a mother and her sons, full of threats of disinheritance and ill will).

I used to get frustrated at all the misaddressed email I receive at my GMail account, but now I treat it as a surreal break from reality, a glimpse into the weirdness that gets passed along in email every day. Maybe I should put up a site with all the email, if for no other reason than to teach people that those long disclaimers they put at the end of their emails (“if you’ve received this in error, you must delete it immediately”, etc.) are meaningless.


I get the same kind of thing. Admittedly, the name Scott Johnson isn’t all too uncommon, but it seems like nobody proofreads the addresses as they are typing. Sure, my email is in the common first dot last at gmail dot com format, but come on! I get Scott L Johnson’s (of Oracle) mail. I also frequently get the mail of another Scott Johnson from Australia. Lately, one of the Scotts out there has signed up with his travel agent to receive cruise deals… and I get them. A lot of these mailing list memberships can easily be cancelled, but some require identifying information that I don’t possess. So I’m just stuck with it.

• Posted by: full-speed.org [OpenID Commenter Profile] on Aug 22, 2007, 11:46 AM

It hasn’t happened to my GMail address though it has on my comcast address. We have the same first initial and last name, but she added a numeric suffix to hers. Which her correspondents forget to include.

I’ve been invited to graduations, bar mitzvahs, and barbecues. I’ve gotten long catching-up-with-everyone letters.

I always forward them to her, and in a strange way I feel like I know her.

• Posted by: Philip on Aug 22, 2007, 1:41 PM

My biggest issue is that, in my case, there appear to be about a dozen (if not more) doppelgangers — I wouldn’t begin to know who to forward most of the messages to! I could always set up a listserv with all addresses I *am* able to figure out, and then disseminate every wrong-address message to everyone. That’d sure get their attention. :)

• Posted by: Jason on Aug 22, 2007, 1:54 PM

This happened to me a few years ago — my name is (apparently) not quite as common as yours, but there was someone with a very similar name on the same ISP. This person is a university professor and I was getting mail from various campus departments and visiting scholars, ecards from her friends, and from her students. I made sure she and the sender(s) found out the mail was misdirected, figuring eventually the flow would slow or stop. It has.

• Posted by: Laura [TypeKey Profile Page] on Aug 22, 2007, 3:51 PM

My company uses the convention of first initial plus last name as our corporate ID. Unfortunately for me, there was already a Scott Taylor, so I got the corporate ID staylo2 (no idea why they dropped the final R). Needless to say, Scott got a lot of correspondence intended for me after I started.

• Posted by: Stan Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] on Aug 22, 2007, 7:50 PM

About 10 months ago, I received email updates from an Australian couple who were doing a long overseas trip from Canada down through South America. I emailed them back to let them know that I was probably not who they thought I was, and they might want to check their email list.

Obviously they didn’t check it, and I continued to receive their periodic updates. So, I was able to enjoy their stories about volunteering a Guatemalan orphanage and losing a passport in Mexico.

Interestingly, when I received the first email, I was in the process of moving to their home city in Australia. I thought about attending their welcome home celebration, but didn’t.

• Posted by: Nancy on Aug 27, 2007, 5:21 AM

E-mail? That’s nothing. My congresscritter sent snail mail to my office.. addressed to my Dad… who lives in a different Congressional district.

But my wife has received a few emails for a person whose last name is her first name, at her gmail account.

• Posted by: mikewas [TypeKey Profile Page] on Sep 7, 2007, 10:07 AM
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