The funny side of having a popular name…

A while back another Matthew Wright – in Australia – pointed out to me that our shared name wasn’t common. It was ‘popular’. Good call.

I suppose I had to put on a kind of expression, or not, for this one...

Not even dressed up as a Grunka Lunka (Google it…)

But it hasn’t stopped relentless confusion. Like the time my publisher kept sending emails meant for me to Matthew Wright, a commissioning editor in their New York office.

Or the day when someone from the UK who’d read my books came to New Zealand and wanted to see me. He researched my appearance via Google and discovered Matthew Wright, star of many ‘adult’ movies.

Google really don’t know who I am at all – they also credit the books of mine that they’ve scanned without permission to Matthew Wright, a lecturer at the University of Essex. Adds insult to the injury, and they haven’t corrected their mistake despite my efforts.

Then there was the time someone contacted me wanting to buy ‘my’ book on the Midland Railway line, central South Island, by Matthew Wright. I write railway books. But this wasn’t one of them. (The third Matthew Wright who writes in New Zealand publishes poetry online…)

All good fun until somebody loses an eye. What worries me is that a Matthew Wright will do something heinous – and I’ll end up innocently smeared, even after clarification.

Which brings me to what Matthew Wright was reported doing last week. Allegedly,  my 20-year old UK namesake went on a rampage in a kebab shop, knocking someone over.  I suppose it was to be expected. As a friend of mine pointed out, he was in a clubbing district. (Groan.)

Thing was, this youthful Matthew apparently did it dressed as an Oompa-Loompa.

He has since denied the allegation, according to the latest report.

Have you ever been mistaken for somebody else?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

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19 comments on “The funny side of having a popular name…

  1. Yup. Found out I was a property owner once, or so this lawyer’s office thought. Seems there was another Tom Burkhalter in the local phone book. Now “Tom” is pretty common, but “Burkhalter” not so much.

    Best story: when I was in college I took a physics class with six other guys. The professor walked in, looked around, grinned and said, “Good morning, Tom.” In unintended perfect unison the seven of us answered, “Good morning, Dr. Muir.” Happens we were all named Tom…!

    • That’s an exceptionally cool story. You might get a couple of people with the same name in class (I recall two Matthews in some of mine)…but seven Toms – brilliant!

  2. Janice Spina says:

    Stay far away from clubs and start wearing a disguise or better yet move to an area where you are the only Matthew Wright. I Googled myself one day and found several people with my name. It turned out three of them were me!! I am the only one in my area. Like you I hope the others behave themselves!

    I wouldn’t like the idea of others getting credit for my work. You just remember, you are unique and have your own personality. I kind of like your quirky sense of humor and the way you look at life and all its intricacies.
    Take care.

    • Thank you! Yeah, I’d like to move somewhere there wasn’t another Matthew Wright, but New Zealand is a small place – there are 42 of us on the electoral roll alone – I know this because I rang up the Chief Electoral Officer and asked. :-)

      It’s irksome that others have been given credit for my work. It’s not hard to prove authorship – the stuff is on legal deposit in New Zealand and my moral rights were asserted normally on publication, quite apart from my paper trails of contracts, anguished letters to publishers, etc etc. But Google seem not to want to know.

  3. A politician from North Dakota and a Hit and Run Driver in Colorado. The second one almost cost my job because I was working on an ambulance at the time and a major driving violation would have meant a suspended Emergency Medical Technician license. The police came to visit me “on the job” which made for some fast explanations to my bosses.

  4. Yes, I have been mistaken for other people, but not because of my name. I have one of “those” faces. On more than a few occasions people have insisted I am someone they know, even after I assure them I’m not. Here’s the most classic example:

    Right out of college I took a job as a banquet waitress at a resort hotel in San Diego. I was working a Class Reunion party for a local high school and EVERYONE kept calling me Pam. Apparently I looked exactly like a girl in their graduating class by that name. I tried to tell everyone I wasn’t Pam, and if I was I certainly wouldn’t work my own Class Reunion. Didn’t help. After a couple of hours, I gave in and started answering to “Pam”. Wouldn’t you know, my tips increased exponentially. *sigh*

    • I guess the plus side is the extra tipping.:-)

      Incidentally, we don’t have tipping here in New Zealand at all – it’s quite a foreign concept to us, by and large. Occasionally restaurants have a ‘tip jar’ prominently displayed near the cash register, but the staff usually don’t get to see the contents. I still remember one time when my wife and I went to Europe, she made me promise not to offer people a tip and then say ‘Save money and be nice to your mother.’ :-)

  5. kokkieh says:

    My stepmom once mistook me for my dad. Had she realised her mistake a second later it might have become extremely awkward.

    There’s also another guy who lives near Cape Town who apparently looks a lot like me. I’ve never met him, but we have several mutual friends, each of whom did a double-take when they met me the first time.

  6. Praveen k r says:

    I think that the beauty of migrating, i have migrated to Australia and my name is unique here, even though its a very common name back in India and easy to be mistaken

  7. quirkybooks says:

    That is hard, I have looked up your name as a Domain and the .co.uk .com .net and .org are taken. I was going to suggest that the best way of solving your problem is to have a domain about your name. In my experience, the more websites and social media a person has about themselves, the better Google is able to identify them, by cross references of their combined profiles. Are you on LinkedIn?

    • My primary website is http://www.matthewwright.net – I obtained this in 2001 and even then had to use the .net extension because the .com was taken. I did think of using the .co.nz extension, One strategy is to grab all the possible domain names and variants that come up – and I know some companies do this for brand protection purposes. But it gets expensive.

      • quirkybooks says:

        That’s great you got the .net I was fortunate enough to be able to get the .com version of my name recently. I know what you mean about buying domain names can be expensive. I find myself having to buy a lot of them, some of which are for my future business plans. I have quirkybooks.net and rank highly for quirkybooks searches. I find often better than the .com and .co.uk that were already taken and my site is under re-construction at the mo. Are you on LinkedIn?

  8. […] name is simply too common, especially if there are other famous people/authors with the same name (Matthew Wright can tell you a lot about […]

  9. I had something somewhat (dis?)similar happen to my dog. We used to live on Chartiers Ave. in a small suburb. A larger, more well-known Chartiers was in a nearby town. My friend was going to get my dog license for me when she went to get hers. She brought back his license and he was registered for the other town. My friend told me she explained that I lived on a different Chartiers, but the woman would not be dissuaded, insisting she knew where that street was. Therefore, my dog lived about 25 miles from his owners until it was time for a new license.
    I guess there’s only one Chartiers in the whole world! :)
    I have a character in one of my in-progress novels who is a famous writer and was sued by a well-known mathematician of the same name living in England. My writer lives in NY, but he had to change his. It’s only a side point, but it helped define the character better.

    • That last happens. There was a real-life incident here in which two fashion designers had very similar names. The better known one objected to the lesser known one trading under what was, I believe, her birth name. It’s not possible, under New Zealand law at least, to stop someone doing that, but trademark issues do arise. In the writing world, aside from several Matthew Wrights, we also have at least one Michael Jackson, who is very much alive. He’s a poet.

  10. toconnell88 says:

    Great topic. Well, apparently there’s an openly gay and brazenly irritating Big Brother contestant in the UK going by the name Tom O’Connell. I’m a considerably more conservative, introverted (and let’s not forget straight) Tom O’Connell from Australia. Doesn’t stop my friends from making the comparison!

    My girlfriend’s dad (a pragmatic tradesman) was commonly getting mistaken for a professional artist of the same name. (Said artist even illustrated some of Peter Carey’s books — cool!)

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