Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's In A Name?

What's in a name, not that much. For a moment think about all the people you know with the same name as you. Whether they are famous or not, they rarely have similar traits, or look anything like you. The importance of your name then really is self imposed (or parent imposed) Often people change their names or use their middle names because their mother did such a poor job of aptly describing what came out of her Who-Ha. 

My real first name is Justin. I share it with the likes of  Bieber, Timberlake and Guarini. I don't know how I ultimately feel about my name being Justin. I find it strange to introduce myself and use my full name. Perhaps we all feel a little weird like we are having an out of body experience when we introduce ourselves. I've noticed that my family have devised short forms to call me "Justy" in the case of my mother, "Just" in the case of my brother. I get the impression that the formal version of Justin doesn't quite suit me.

Where am I going with this? an anecdote of course!

I used to work at warehouse that sold school textbooks. My job was in the office part of the warehouse. It was my task to look busy while I typed to my friends on ICQ. If you don't know what ICQ is, it reveals how old this story is. This lady named Susan used to work the morning shift and occasionally  I would see her in passing as I arrived to work afternoons. She was about 40 and a little weathered by time but very friendly. When we first met our conversation went something like this:

Her: Hello to you.
Me: Hi my name is Justin, I work here.
Her: Hello my name is Susan, I also work here.
*blank stares*
Her: Well Jason, it was nice meeting you.
Me: Actually, that's Justin, nice to have met you too.
Her: Oops sorry, okay, see you later Justin.

A few days passed and I saw her again:

Her: Hey Jason, how ya doin'
Me: *pauses* uh...I'm doing well, how bout you?
Her: I'm great Jason, I had a great weekend partying.
Me: Cool.
Her: Yeah Jason, you should really get out to____(wherever) it's really quite nice.
Me: I just might if I can ever get off work.
Us: Generic work sucks commentary.
Her: Okay, well see you around Jason.
Me: *GULP* okay, see you around.

For the next couple of weeks I kept running into her and every time she called me Jason. The embarrassment of this situation was heightened by the fact that my brothers name is JASON! What could I do? She had been calling me Jason for two weeks, my name was officially Jason. If I corrected her I would seem like a big ass but more importantly I would have had to face the question "Why didn't you tell me that you name was Justin?"

For the next little while I did what any sensible person would do, I avoided her. I would arrive to work late and make excuses to be in spots other than my office. I was not above diving into an aisle of books or dipping into the break room. But like some moment out of a sitcom she would emerge from the shadows and exclaim "Hello Jason!" 

I couldn't take it any longer. I decided to confide in my boss (who was cool) the dark secret that I had been harboring. 

Me: I've got a problem
Him: What's that?
Me: Susan keeps calling me Jason.
Him: Why don't you correct her.
Me: I did, but now the grace period of adjusting your brain to learning someone's name has passed. To correct her would be awkward and insulting.
Him: It's not that big a deal.
Me: I know, is there any possible way you can give her the hint that my name is Justin.
Him: Sure buddy, I'll help you out.

The next day me and the boss are hanging out and Susan walks in:

Boss: Hey Susan
Her: Hello.
Boss: Justin tells me that you keep calling him Jason, his name is Justin.
Me *sheet white*
Her: Oops, okay, sorry Justin.
Her: Why didn't you tell me Justin?

At this point I swear she gave me the stink eye but I was too frozen with fear and boggled with confusion that I can't clearly remember. Obviously my boss had missed the emphasis I had put on the word "hint" and the words PLEASE DO IT WHEN I"M NOT THERE TO FACE THE EMBARRASSMENT, SHAME AND SCORN OF THE MOMENT.

After that day Susan rarely ever talked to me again. Sure we spoke every once in a while but it was more soulless and empty then our previous conversations. It was as if we lost something. Perhaps she liked Jason better.


  1. Subtlety is not something to expect from anyone not in your shoes. And not to be rude but I kinda prefer the name Jason over Justin as well, mainly because the name Justin is part of a knock knock joke

  2. @SMandL: she was certainly not hot. :)

    @bad ideas: Justin time for dinner?

  3. that's too fucking funny! how the hell could she get that wrong?!

    i can understand when people say my name improperly and start saying all kinds of weird thing but Jason/Justin?

    too bloody funny

  4. As someone who shares the name of a character in your blog, I to know the pains of being called by the wrong name. Fellow employees, grandparents etc. The difference is I set them straight every time tout de suite, cause Justin(no offense) is just a ridiculous name.

    And whats up with your parents naming your kids Jason and Justin. Seems like you got the sloppy seconds.

    Maybe consider changing to Jim or something.

    Also for the record being a Jason, you can guarantee she was hoping you were a Jason :-)

  5. this is too funny - such a funny story but I can relate to the story - I get called Cheryl, Cherry, Sherry, and the best one is Chris. I let you figure out what my real name is. I just go with the flow and when they finally get it right and ask why didn't I tell them my name - I just say I did I just figured you didn't know how to pronounce it right. :O)

  6. oh, jason! that was a funny story.

  7. jason/justin/jerome,
    i get this shit alot. i also use my middle name, and seeing as how it's not only rare and cool, like me, i am a very colorful woman*. violet. come on. and i am an artist, i also teach art.
    i have been called viol... huh- like the instrument i guess.
    also was called velvet- by more than one person.
    and one dipshit kept getting my name wrong FOR YEARS, that every time i saw her, i introduced myself as other people: tiffany, amber, brittney, etc.
    she was so embarrassed that when i see her out and about, she still gets red on the face-
    and had no fucking idea what my name is- that dumb bitch.

    *this is the first time in 22+ years that i have brown/natural colored hair. i have been dying it with manic panic since i was 12. when i met the d.b. i mentioned, i had blue or purple hair. what a double-dummy.


  8. I found this blog post while googling to see if anyone else is having this Justin/Jason problem.

    Your blog post didn't disappoint; I feel your pain.