I have had my Gmail account for nearly six years now — thanks to an early invitation from master publisher David Boles. I chose the username “gordond” because I wanted to see if it was available. For many years I only chose the username ‘gdavides’ based on the assigned username I got at Peddie — it was based on the first letter of my first name and the following seven letters of my last name.
Why only seven letters? In 1993, the school’s network software was Novell Netware and since it ran on DOS, it was limited by DOS limitations including eight characters for a file name. Ever since I made the attempt to be gordond and not gdavides I have always tried to get the gordond user name whenever I have been able to do so — when I have not, I have gone to either gdavides or, when feeling particularly feisty, gordondavidescu. I own my name (as you should own your name) and therefore couldn’t help but be surprised when I started getting e-mails that were subscription based — only I knew I hadn’t subscribed.
It all started with HP emails from the UK. They were weekly e-mails advising me of the latest UK HP sale. I wondered how it was possible that someone decided to subscribe to this weekly e-mail with my e-mail address and it finally occurred to me that it was only too easy for someone with my first name but with a different last name — perhaps a slip of the finger turned what should have been firstname.lastname@example.org into email@example.com.
A few months ago, I started getting e-mails that were addressed to a man and his wife in Colorado regarding their Toyota and its recent service. I assumed that the e-mails would stop after a few — thinking that the couple would alert the Toyota to the lack of e-mails on their end and the matter would be fixed. However, this has not been the case at all. Rather, the e-mails continue to this day and I’m not sure if there is anything I can do to stop it as they come from a “do not reply” e-mail — and the e-mails all contain very personal information about this Colorado couple that I’m sure they would not want me to receive.
Lastly, for a very brief period of time I received e-mail messages from a woman in Australia who wanted to send me photos of her family. Well, not so much that she wanted to send the photos to me — rather, that she wanted to send the photos to her grandson, great nephew, or whomever she thought was actually receiving these e-mails.
I thought I should respond and tell her the bad news about my not being that person but I thought that it might just break her heart to think that she was sending such personal information to the wrong party. In rethinking it, however, it may have been better to write to her such that she could have gotten the e-mails to the correct person faster.
I wonder how carefully people are when they send letters and postcards and packages by mail. Do they look over the address they write on the package to make sure that the correct person gets the Chanukah present they are trying to send? If so, why is similar care not taken when e-mails are being written, considering what sensitive information can sometimes be sent in a message?
Just when I thought I was going to wrap up this article, along came another set of e-mails from a total stranger titled “scattered moments (involving you and my camera)” — from what may have been a date. About three minutes after the first e-mail was sent (with three lovely photos) a second e-mail was written with the following text: “If this is your email, well enjoy the pictures. Wrong email; that’s a different Gordon. Sorry!” I enjoyed seeing the happiness of these two strangers even though I am in fact: A Different Gordon.