Yesterday in the mail an envelope arrived with a set of tickets to the New York Film Festival. This was rather puzzling, since we had already received our tickets. A close examination of the address showed that the first and last names were right, and the street was right, but the middle initial was wrong (I seldom use mine anyway), the street number had an extra digit, and the apartment number was wrong.
There is no listing in the phone book for that name and address, but a call to the New York Film Society produced the number. My wife called him, and he happily agreed to come over and pick up his tickets. It seems that the Film Society has completely screwed up both of our addresses. We are both listed as at his street number, my street (which is one less than his), and his apartment number. I think the reason I haven't had any problems before is that I always include a self-addressed envelope with my ticket order.
This kind of confusion happens from time to time. My male name is not unique, even in Manhattan. There are three of us in the current phone book. Years ago I remember there were six. Back then there was a lot of confusion. When I first moved to New York I got quite a bit of mail meant for one of the others, who lived in the same neighborhood. Apparently he was a book editor. Once I even got a manuscript someone sent. I marked "Return to Sender: Wrong Xxxxx Xxxxx" on everything and dumped them in a mailbox.
There were also a lot of phone calls meant for him. I usually knew it immediately, because thay'd say "Hi, Xxxxx," which was a nickname I never use. What really got me, though, were these messages left on my answering machine. Every couple months or so I'd come home from work and find a message that went, "Hi, [nickname]. This is Bill. I'm going to be in New York next week. Can we get together and talk? Please call me at home." This went on, year after year after year. I really felt sorry for him, but he never left a phone number, and I didn't have caller ID (if it even existed back then), so there wasn't anything I could do to end his frustration. Not to mention mine.
One day, though, I was at home sick when he called.
"Hi, [nickname]. I'm so glad I caught you at home."
"I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong [first name] [last name]."
"You're not my brother?"
A little more silence.
"But, but, I've been calling you and leaving messages for years."
"I know, but you never left your number, so I couldn't call and tell you that you were making a mistake."
"Oh my God. All this time I thought he was still mad at me."
4 hours ago