Early in my career, I took calls from employees and answered their questions. One day, I had a voice message from someone talking in a manufacturing environment, as it had a lot of background noise. I couldn’t quite hear his name, but I thought it was Johnson (not the real name, as I don’t remember the actual name).
I had the phone number and was able to call it back. When the man answered, I said, “Hi. I’m calling for someone named John or… Johnson?”
“Johnson, that’s me,” he responded.
“Great, let me pull you up on my computer,” I said as I typed his last name on the screen. “And your first name?”
“John,” he said.
As I continue typing, I said with a chuckle, “Well, didn’t your parents have a sense of humor.”
[I used to think it showed a complete lack of creativity for children named with a first and last name so similar, like William Williams. Actually, I still think that, but I’ve learned that sometimes it’s a family name from the mother’s side.]
Imagine my embarrassment when the employee’s name came up on the screen as John Johnson Sr. SENIOR! That’s means there was a John Johnson Jr. as he must have named his son that too! I do not remember the rest of the conversation. I’m sure I answered his question to his satisfaction, but I just wanted to get off that call as soon as I could.
When done, all I could think was, “Did you really say that to him?” (Valuable lesson – I have never said anything like that since!)