My name has always made life complicated – but not for me. It’s other people who seem to have a problem.
I’m currently tangled in a case of mistaken identity. Several of my coworkers greet me with “Hey Samie”, which is perfectly fine, but their cheerful welcomes jolts Siri from her slumber on their iPhones.
That damn Siri. Always so eager to help people.
When my editor got a new phone last year, he became the first to experience the Samie/Siri mix-up. He thought it was so funny that he told the story to his wife, and with perfect comedic timing, Siri awoke again, right on cue.
“What can I call you other than Samie?” my editor asked after it happened again last week.
Great question. I’ve been Samie for more than 30 years. Siri has been Siri for 7 years. Sorry, hun – age before technological beauty.
To reduce the confusion, I told him he could call me Sam, but only my Mom calls me that. And you can’t call me Samantha because that’s not my name. Samie is short for nothing. Samie is Samie. It’s my name.
My editor said he could call me Hartley, which is acceptable too. He briefly declared my new nickname would be Walnut, a reference to the Hartley walnut, which used to be grown in the area. The nut took a blue ribbon at the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco, so the reference was fine by me, but the nickname didn’t last beyond that afternoon.
The Samie/Siri conundrum is just the latest in a string of confusions that have followed me my whole life. One of my favorite name game complications haunted me in the middle school when my foreign language teacher could not pronounce my name to save her life. I was either “Say-me” or “Saw-me”. My friends told me I needed to correct her, but it never helped, so I decided it was easier to respond to any name she called me that started with an “S” and ended with an “ee”.
In my 33 years, I’ve been Sally, Sandy, and Saddie as well as other “S” names like Sarah and even Samuel. That’s become my best quirk of my name. People don’t know who to expect when all they have is my name. Is Samie a man or woman? I’ve been getting mail addressed to Mr. Samie Hartley for years. Just comes with the territory.
But for a brief period I was taking the error to heart and collecting all the mail I received for Mr. Hartley and writing back to these organizations to correct them. I wrote to a man running for state assembly, asking him how he expected to get my vote if he didn’t even know if I was male or female. He showed up on my doorstep two weeks later to apologize. Turns out he really did want my vote.
When I’m in reporter mode and make first contact with folks via email, they are sometimes surprised to find a woman waiting for them at the coffee shop or on in their conference room.
“Oh, look at you,” an elderly man once said upon meeting me. “I was expecting a man, but I got Lois Lane. How about that?”
Not the first time a man thought it would be cute to call me Lois Lane, so I rolled with it. At least he knew my name, I think.