You’re working away one morning and someone calls you out of the blue. You don’t recognize the number, so it must be a telemarketer. Perhaps out of boredom, you answer. The person on the other end of the line is far stranger than a telemarketer.
It’s me. The OTHER you, but not from another universe. From another state, another town. I am the original owner of the gmail address you think you own, but don’t actually possess.
For four years, I have received your credit card bills, phone bills, and travel confirmations. So many times, I’ve considered resetting all your passwords, canceling your trips, your phone, and your credit cards. Please, I begged the internet gods, stop sending me this other person’s emails. I never wanted to know so much about a stranger’s life. I have received your overdue notices for bills. I have worried about you. Were you having financial trouble? Out of work? My understanding if your life was too intimate. I didn’t want to have to worry about you. I have my own problems.
I have many times wondered why you keep using an email address when, for years, you have not once received a confirmation email. In fact, I have many questions about your life that would be inappropriate for a stranger to ask. Why do you change your cell phone provider so often? When you took that emergency trip to Mississippi, was it for a funeral? Did you ever find a job, or did you just stop looking? I’m guessing you must have, because this trip to a Florida resort is damned expensive. All we have in common in a name, but I know more about you than some of your friends probably do.
After all this time, a confirmation email comes in with all your contact details. You live in Macon, Georgia and now I have your phone number. This is finally a way to reach you that doesn’t involve my own address!
This is it. The holy grail! I’ve dreamed about this moment.
Nervously, I pick up my phone and punch in the number. I think about what I will say if I get a person, and what I will say if I get shunted to voice mail. If our positions were reversed, you would get voice mail. But no, you answer. You have exactly the southern accent I expected. Of course you think I’m a telemarketer, because I say:
“Hello? My name is Jeremy Tolbert. Are you Jeremy Tolbert?”
Confusion occurs. The connection is bad. But eventually I convince you, by referring to the latest email, that I am in fact Jeremy Tolbert and I have been receiving your email.
“That’s weird,” you say. “My email is [name+numbers]@[otherprovider].com”
I don’t ask you how the hell you type in my email address over and over again if that’s your address. I just let you know that I’ll forward you the resort confirmation there so you can have it. We laugh, and wish each other to have a good day. I hang up.
Like most things you spend so much time dreaming about, the actual encounter is a letdown. I still want to know why you have continuously used the wrong email address for four years. I guess now I have a way to ask you. The only question that matters now is… should I?