can I ask a new hire to use a nickname, getting out of an office basketball game, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. Can I ask a new hire to use a nickname since we share the same first name?

We’re in the process of interviewing and we’ve found a great candidate that we might be ready to move forward with. A big snag though is that she has the same first name as me. We work in a small office with less than 10 people, but we utilize over 300 volunteers, most of whom are 60+. Because of my position, I don’t have day-to-day interaction with most of the volunteers, but it’s important that they know that I’m the one in charge. We’ll also both be out in the community doing outreach events and again, it’s important for the community to know the difference. Is it out bounds to I ask her to go by a nickname? (For example, if we’re both named Amanda, could I ask her to go by Mandy?)

It is indeed out of bounds! Names are really personal, and you can’t ask someone to change what they go by. But you can certainly suggest that she go by Amanda S. or whatever her last initial is — just as you’d have to do if the name didn’t lend itself as easily to a nickname, like Karen or Lila. And when you suggest that, it’s possible that she’ll volunteer that she sometimes goes by Mandy and would be happy to do it at work, but you’ve got to let that come from her.

Or, of course, you can be the one to use a nickname, if you want the first names to be different — but I think you’ll find that people figure it out and make do. (Ask all the Sarahs and Matts out there.)


Read an update to this letter here.

2. How can I get out of my office’s basketball game?

I work in a small sales team (two groups of five people) for a university selling tickets to athletic events. All of my coworkers are hardcore jocks and sports fans. I love my job, but I’m not the biggest sports fan. My boss knows that I don’t like sports nearly as much as my coworkers and he’s fine with that, particularly because it doesn’t affect my job performance.

The problem is, as a reward for reaching our January goal, our boss has scheduled some time for us to play basketball as a team together in the university’s stadium. The rest of the team is understandably excited about this but I couldn’t be more nervous. I’m absolutely terrible at basketball and do not enjoy playing in the slightest. My boss has emphasized that we’re not there to be competitive but rather to just bond as a team. However, I fear that the whole affair will be terribly awkward because I’ll stand out in stark contrast to my very athletic coworkers. I’d prefer to just not go, but how can I communicate this to my boss? I worry that because we’re a sports-based team that my not participating will look counter to the culture of the office and reflect poorly on me.

Ugh, I’m right there with you. I wouldn’t want to do with this either. That said, I think you should go, but you don’t have to play. Instead, offer to keep score, cheer people on, hand out towels (is that a thing?), or some other job that has you there but not doing the part you don’t want to do.

You can either tell a white lie (“I have a bad back that would aggravated by this”) or tell your boss the truth (“this would a punishment for me, not a reward — I’m going to keep score instead”). Note that in that last one, you’re not asking to sit it out, you’re letting him know that you will be; you’re an adult and this isn’t high school gym class, so you get to do that.

If you really don’t want to go at all, you can adjust that wording to “this would be a punishment for me, not a reward, so I’m going to skip it — but have fun!” But I’d really recommend going and just doing something that doesn’t involve playing.


Read an update to this letter here.

3. Can I give more feedback to someone I recently fired?

I recently fired a member of my staff. She was chronically late, frequently wanted to leave early, often called out very close to her scheduled start time (this is not a job where working from home is an option and coverage at the desk is important), and – towards the end – she was very distracted and her attitude was poor. We’d had a couple meetings about these concerns and I was going to put her on a PIP before she called out again and I’d had enough, so the firing wasn’t completely a surprise, but hadn’t had as much preparation as I’d have liked.

We had something of an exit interview (over the phone – again, not the way I would have preferred to do this), and discussed why she was being fired. She wasn’t rude but it was pretty clear that she wasn’t hearing what I had to say. I really want to wait a couple weeks until she’s cooled off and email her a little feedback, not as a former manager, but just as a person who worked with her, to help her improve. All her issues aside, I really liked her and want to see her succeed, but I felt like she got in her own way a lot. I have no idea how she would take this, and I don’t want to start any drama with her, but I saw a lot of my younger self in her and just wish I could help her do better in the future.

Is this crazy? I feel like it is, but the impulse is also really strong.

Don’t do it.

While she was still working for you, you had complete standing to talk to her as much as you wanted about why this stuff was a problem. But you’re no longer in a position to do that; she no longer works for you, and it’s highly unlikely that she’s interested in having a postmortem with the person who fired her about what happened. While I get that you’re thinking this could be genuinely helpful to her, it won’t come across that way to her — it’s going be “why the hell is the person who fired me and who I no longer work for emailing me weeks later to continue to talk about what I’ve done wrong?”


4. I used an alias to reapply for a job with a company that just rejected me

I applied to a job and went to the third round and then never heard back. Later I learned that the position has been filled. I was not getting any reply from the company after my interview, although I was told “you did great and you’ll hear back in a week.” I was trying to reach HR, the team, and everyone, but nobody answered, so I made another profile in their online application system with the same resume, but I changed the name to my alias.

I applied for anther job in same department using my alias. Yesterday I got a call from HR (phone screening) and he scheduled me for interview with the team. What should I do? Should I attend?

I am so confused about what you were attempting to accomplish with applying again with an alias. Obviously if you meet with them, they’re going to realize that it’s you and they’re going to wonder why you’re using an alias. It’s going to look like you were attempting to trick them into interviewing you, and it’s also going to look like a really weirdly-thought-out plan, since they’d of course realize it once you showed up in person.

This is a bad idea.

The only thing I can think of that you could do to try to salvage this would be to immediately fess up to the HR person who scheduled the interview and try to come up with an explanation that might make sense. (I’m racking my brain here and all I can come up with is something like, “I want to mention that I interviewed with this team last month. They know me as Barnaby Warbleworth, my legal name. I use Percival Montblanc socially and I didn’t realize I’d put it on the application.”) But … it’s going to seem weird.


{ 429 comments… read them below }

  1. Anononon*

    I’m really confused by the concern that OP 1 had about sharing a name with a new employee. There are, give or take, about a dozen or so people in my department, and there have been several name pairs. It’s rarely ever been an issue. Either last initials get used, or it’s obvious from the context.

    1. Canadian Valkyrie.*

      I’m honestly just relieved it didn’t go how I thought – like maybe she had some difficult or long non-English name and it’s like “I’m just going to call you May” instead of the full name… it always comes off as kind of racist because 9/10 it’s not that hard so I’m glad it’s not that. Buuut yeah it’s still off seeming – I suspect OP is/was just over thinking it.

      1. Coenobita*

        Same! But I thought the update was so interesting – the new hire did decide to go by a nickname after all. Apparently there actually was some confusion among volunteers/community members.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          The important thing to me, there, was that it was the new hire’s choice, not something imposed by the boss. I’ve had people try to impose unwanted nicknames on me, and it’s a sucky thing to do to someone.

          1. La Triviata*

            At one time, my office had two people with the same first and last names … someone suggested using Name 1 and Name 2. The final solution was to use First Name Middle Initial, which worked out fine.

            Be careful about giving people nicknames they haven’t suggested – we have a woman in the office who used to give people nicknames, usually with little or no reference to their actual names. Even after they’d asked her not to, she kept using them. I suspect that this was one of the reasons one of her staff people left the organization.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              This has happened to my company three times in 10 years. One ended up being no big deal because there was a nickname involved, but both of the others involved people who went by the exact same names – one ended up having their title appended (Jim Smith – Researcher and Jim Smith – Principal) and the other volunteered to adopt a new nickname to avoid confusion since they were in the same department and sit two desks away from each other.

      2. Aquawoman*

        Ugh, my youngest is a senior in high school and his government teacher asked a Muslim girl if she had a nickname and when she said she didn’t, rolled his eyes and said “of course not.” This was after being snotty to my son that he had a different name than on the register (bcs, legal name =deadname). I was like, can we fire him? Let’s fire him.

        1. Omnivalent*

          It’s certainly worth a try! It seems like many awful teachers keep their jobs because parents don’t do anything about them.

      3. Freya*

        One of my clients recently got an employee with a name that my fellow Australians tend to struggle with – more vowels than anything else, in unexpected groupings, although it’s perfectly phonetic in the source language. I was pretty sure I had the pronunciation right, but I googled to check my assumptions, and then checked with the client’s employee what they preferred when I had cause to speak to them. From their reaction, I don’t think anyone had ever got it right before – but having one of those names that people assume wrong on myself, it just feels polite to call people by the name they want to be called :-/

        1. Owlgal*

          I have a speech impediment. Even with concentrated effort, I can’t manage some words. In my daily life, I just use synonyms; but can’t do that with names. I do my best, though.

    2. banoffee pie*

      haha yeah my brother’s name is so common he could never avoid meeting other people with it. He can’t afford to be precious about it. Mine’s pretty common too but his is one of the most used in the UK. And I can think of multiple Steves off the top of my head. I think the usual thing is to use initials to avoid confusion, like Steve P and Steve G. Or some people say big Steve and wee Steve but that can annoy people too. It’s a minefield!

      1. Anononon*

        The weird thing at my work is that some of the name pairs, they’re not the most common of names. Like mine is one, and while it’s a pretty “traditional” name, it’s not exceedingly common/trendy. Once, the woman I share the name with and I were emailing with someone outside of the company also with the same name, and I was super amused by it. (The three-person name-sharing email has also happened at least k ce with one of the other name pairs.)

        1. MAC*

          I have a very uncommon first/last name pairing, including a 2-name first name and a last name shared by less than 2 dozen people in the US. *Nobody* else has the same name as me (trust me, I’ve Googled extensively!)
          But then my brother went and married someone with a very similar first name (think BettySue and BettieJo) and our workplaces both use first initial last name email conventions – I’m amazed he hasn’t ever sent me their kids’ sports schedules or the grocery list by mistake.

      2. Mangled metaphor*

        When I started at my current job,on the team I was joining there were three people called Dave, such a popular name, there’s a TV channel named it!
        There were also four other Daves in other department, plus two in my private life.

        My own name is uncommon enough that I was ten before I met someone else who shared it (after going to school with two Sarah’s, two Adams, two Pauls, two Rachels and two Chloes!), and *she* was still the one who is got the nickname.

        1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

          At my grade school, apparently the teachers picked names out of a hat as to which kids they’d get in their class, which is how all four Mikes in my grade ended up in the same class. In high school, we had so many variations of Christie and Krissy that we just gave up on trying to keep them all straight, even when 6 of them ended up in the same children’s lit class.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            We had, I think, 7 Jennys in my year at my elementary school, which means there were at least two in each class. Two of them had the same last initial so they became Tall Jenny and Small Jenny.

            1. Empress Matilda*

              Yeah, I don’t know what happened in the mid-70’s, but it seemed like every second girl was named Jennifer.

              Now as an adult I differentiate them by their kids names – so my contact list has “Jen Sam’s mom,” and “Jen Georgia’s mom,” and of course “High School Jen” and “Undergrad Jen” and “Jen Next Door…”

              1. SweetFancyPancakes*

                I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Jennifer was the #1 name in the early 70s. In the 90s I could pretty much guarantee that nearly every baby/toddler girl I met would be named Ashley or Brittany.

              2. Freya*

                1/25th of my graduating year of high school (late 90s) was named Rebecca or an alternate spelling thereof :-P

              3. JE*

                I have a slightly different problem with the name Jennifer. My legal name is Jennie but people usually assume it’s short for Jennifer and sometimes put that on official documents without informing me. Official documents! Without checking! And, of course, I constantly have to spell it for people, since they usually spell it with a -y instead of an -ie. I’m pleasant surprised when someone asks about the spelling. As for pronunciation, I get called Jeannie a lot.
                I use my experience to encourage my students (all immigrants) to advocate for the correct pronunciation and spelling of their names instead of taking on English ones or short forms that they don’t like.

                1. Mars Maybe Me*

                  My brother had a similar problem as a kid! His name is John, which is a pretty straightforward, basic name. However, in person adults would try to be weirdly formal and call him Jonathan after he was introduced as John. The amount of times he or my mum had to correct adults about it was more than a handful of times.

            2. Chocoholic*

              My daughter is named Natalie, and our last name starts with a W. When she was in 3rd grade, she played softball and there was another girl who was named Natalie on the team as well. And her name started with a W so they came up with nicknames based on their last names that only were used at softball.

              Fast forward to when she started high school and joined the color guard team, and there was the other Natalie W on the team (along with another Natalie but her last name was H). The other Natalie W was a year ahead of her, and already had claim to the first name, so my daughter went by our last name. Then when the other Natalie W graduated, my daughter reclaimed her first name (Natalie H goes by Nat, so that works out).

              When we were picking names, we wanted to pick a name that people had heard of, but wasn’t super common….so much for that!

            3. Nesprin*

              I once had 6 Jenny/Jennifer Nguyens in my class of 150. It made grading a nightmare (everyone had to use student IDs), but I still called them the nicknames they wanted.

            4. Lexica*

              There’s an interesting animated map showing the most popular girl’s name for each state by year, and it’s funny to see how in 1970 suddenly Jennifer started to take over. By 1973, it was #1 everywhere, and remained so for many years.

            5. TardyTardis*

              My husband once had four Caitlyns in his class, all spelled differently. All hail the seating chart!

          2. NervousHoolelya*

            When I was in fifth or sixth grade, we ended up with three Andrews in my class. One of the Andrews noted that he was called “Drew” at home, so that was easy enough. The teacher arbitrarily decided that the smaller of the remaining Andrews would be “Andy” and the larger one would be “Andrew.”

            I can still remember listening to “Andrew” complaining vocally at recess about how “Andy” stole his nickname.

            1. Bryan*

              In my high school graduating class of 86. We had three us named Bryan/Brian and all of our last names started with S.

            2. Kathryn*

              In my kindergarten class (this was in 1982 mind you) we had four Michaels. They were called Michael, Mike, Mikey, and inexplicably the 4th was called Squiggy.

            3. NotAnotherManager!*

              One of my classes in elementary school (4th, maybe?) had five Jennifers. Jen and Jenny made out okay but the remaining three Jennifers ended up with initials because none preferred a nickname. And there were two with last names that started with S.

          3. Denver Gutierrez*

            In one of my classes we had 3 Sarahs, 2 Jennifers, and 2 Tawanas. The teacher just used first and last names when addressing them.

        2. Female Engineer*

          My name is unisex (but leaning more feminine in popularity) so I have the potential to meet both genders with my name. On top of it all, it is a name that cannot have a nickname. I was 10 too until I met a boy with that name. Luckily, he was in my sister’s grade. No one in my middle school had my name either. It was only in high school that there were 2 other girls in my grade with my name. We shared classes and it was all manageable.

          1. tamarack & fireweed*

            The name I go by (shortened version of my given name) is unisex, too. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t really think the kid naming thing through to the end, and now both my brother and I have the same name.

        3. EE*

          Have you read Hogfather by Terry Pratchett? There’s a ‘Medium Dave’ because nicknames to differentiate the surfeit of Daves were running short.

          1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

            There’s also Not-as-big-as-medium-jock-but-bigger-than-wee-Jock-Jock from the Tiffany Aching books!

        4. Not A Girl Boss*

          I sit in one of those 4-person cubicles. Kid you not, all 3 other people in the cubicle are named Brian.

          Its pretty awful. No one ever knows who anyone is talking to. And 2 of them have the same last initial, so “Brian S” doesn’t work either. And none of them have been helpful about volunteering alternatives (one really hates when we call him by his last name, for example). And calling them by job title “Procurement Brian” etc comes off as kind of mean. So we have just embraced the confusion as best we can. Because people get to be picky about what they’re called.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think it would be somehow mean to call them Procurement Brian, etc., but calling all of them Brian Lastname seems like a better option. If any of them object to that and have no ideas about alternatives, they’re being prickly.

            1. AnonInCanada*

              I would suspect that those who would object to being called “Brian Lastname” all the time would feel like they’re about to be called on the carpet or, remembering their childhood, were about to be given a scolding by their parents. It would make me feel uneasy TBH.

              1. pancakes*

                Being in an entirely different context with different people wouldn’t help? That is a lot of baggage to be carrying around.

            1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

              Yes! It’s a poem.(I’m not aware of anyone turning it into a song, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s happened). It’s in The Sneetches and Other Stories. It starts out as follows:

              Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
              Had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave?

              Typical Seussian hilarity ensues from there.

              You can find it online (just Google “too many daves”). I’m not going to include a link because that will make this reply go I to moderation, but I promise it’s really easy to find!

        5. Falling Diphthong*

          My daughter has an unusual first name, and was in graduate school before encountering someone with the same name on a summer research project. Where they were promptly dubbed “the Hazels” and treated as a unit, despite doing different things.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Mini Orchestra has a unique name as well – hyphenated after two older family members – we’re fairly sure she’s channeling both of their “this is who I am – cope” personalities into her very own amalgamation.
            Woe unto the person who tries to shorten or misspell her name – she’s very proud of and attached to it.

          2. Jen*

            My brother’s name is Nicholas and his best friend growing up was also Nicholas and everyone called them “the dime.” XD

        6. knitcrazybooknut*

          We had over five Daves in our social circle in college, and ended up with some convoluted nicknames for them, like, “DaveDaveDaveyDave” and “Not DaveDaveDaveyDave BUT Dave”.


          1. UKDancer*

            I worked somewhere with 4 Davids and a Dave. We just used their surnames or the context to identify who we meant. It was not a problem. Unless you shouted “David” in the office in which case they all looked up .

          2. Lexica*

            My friend group in high school had Dave, Other Dave, Other Other Dave, and Egon (“because there’s no ‘e’ in David,” he would explain. “The ‘e’ is gone.”).

      3. Storm in a teacup*

        I work in a department with 4 men all with the same first name and 2 have the same second initial.
        It’s confusing sometimes (esp when all 4 in a meeting) but has led to some very funny moments (we’ve suggested they may be able to start an employee resource group as it’s a pretty common name in the organisation).
        Then one of the four confessed that it’s not even his real first name, but his preferred name as he never uses his real first name. This still makes me cackle

        1. Erin*

          I went the other direction – I never felt “at ease” with my given name, and then I was friends with others with the same forename, and every time someone called the name, it was never me they wanted :(

          And then in my A-levels, I was in class with another “Jane Bloggs”, and we had to put our middle initials on our essays. Ugh, couldn’t stand it. So I picked out a new name for myself.

          Ironically, I’ve met much fewer with this name since. There was just a bit of a cluster in giving this name 1980-1985

          1. I'm just here for the cats!*

            That’s so interesting that after you changed your name you met less people with your name. It’s like the phenomenon where you buy a new car and you start seeing the same color make and model more when you never saw it before.

          2. Another Erin*

            My mom chose this name because it was uncommon, so of course I was in first grade with Erin R, Erin L, Erin D, and Aaron-the-boy. Must have been that cluster.

          3. Another Erin*

            Come to think of it, my boss supervised 3 Erins (and one Heather) at my last job. It threw him off enough that I was frequently accidentally called “Heather-oh-sorry-Erin” and Heather was frequently called “Erin-oh-sorry-Heather”

        2. a tester, not a developer*

          I work with a department where all 3 levels of the reporting structure have a Susan (so entry level Susan reports to manager Susan, who reports to VP Susan). We either use their full names, or just their last names (e.g. “Can you see if Smith can approve this?”)

          1. Nerfmobile*

            I was once in a similar situation, so it ended up for a while as Our Sarah, New Sarah, and Other Sarah. Eventually, Our Sarah and New Sarah started using their last names while Other Sarah added her initial, so it became Smith, Jones, and Sarah B.

      4. bamcheeks*

        I have been a new job for about ten weeks, and as far as I can work out there are about six Jameses out of the 30-odd men in my directorate. Sorry, Jameses, I have given up trying to differentiate you and you’re all just A James to me.

      5. The Magpie*

        My husband also has a name that’s incredibly common in the UK. He’s also a 37-year-old man who dresses like he either time warped in from 1918 or like he’s secretly a very dapper 80 year old who took a youth elixir.

        He has a co-worker who sometimes refers to him as “Bonnet NAME”, because my husband always wears his little old-fashioned Scottish bonnet cap when he goes out of the house. My husband has a very “I gleefully delight in self-deprecation” sense of humour, though, and finds this hilarious. Other people might find it bullying.

        It’s all really subjective; you have to really know your audience before coming up with nicknames like that, I think.

        1. Rock Prof*

          Completely unrelated to the questions, but I didn’t know a Scottish bonnet hat was different than what I picture as a bonnet. I was picturing a very dapper looking man in an American Revolution style bonnet.

          1. Yvette*

            For those of you who don’t want to Google, in the USA it’s often referred to as a Tam O’ Shanter.

      6. JM in England*

        Back in my youth, roughly a quarter of my peer group were called Chris! We differentiated by using the first letter of the surname eg Chris M, Chris R etc.

        Also, around that time, there was a local news article about a soccer team composed entirely of boys called Chris….

        1. Empress Matilda*

          I once went to party where the host introduced the group with “You know Ted, and everyone else is named Chris.” Since I was already friends with Ted and one of the Chris’, it did make it easy to remember names that night…

        2. TardyTardis*

          My husband was part of “Mike, Mike and Mike Inc.” in high school, and shared a common interest in smokeless powder and pillars of flame (nobody got hurt, but they did receive a long list of
          Things They Could Not Do for the next history presentation).

      7. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I went to Catholic school for one hot minute back in the day. If you yelled “Mary” or “John” in the hall a good 50% of the school would turn around, so everyone was John ___ and Mary ___ using last or middle names. If teachers, many of whom were 60+, could manage a class with 10 Marys and 10 Johns (and one Gumption), the volunteers can manage

        1. Artemesia*

          All my SILs are named Mary — they are sisters. It was a real thing in Catholic families. So the eldest Mary Lee was called ‘Mary’ and Mary Elizabeth was ‘Beth’. and ‘Mary Ann’ was ‘Ann’ etc.

          1. Not just me*

            Ooof yeah, all 6 of my uncles are Joseph something. Not sure why one of the middle ones was chosen to be called Joe instead of his middle name

        2. Lucy Skywalker*

          Not surprising. If you’re a Christian (or were one at some point) you’ll know that pretty much every other woman in the New Testament was named Mary and every other man in the New Testament was named John. Off the top of my head, I can think of:

          Mary, mother of Jesus
          Mary Magdalene
          Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus
          Mary, mother of one of Jesus’s disciples

          John the Baptist
          John the apostle
          The author of John’s Gospel
          The author of Revelation (who may or may not be the same as the Gospel author, I can’t remember)

      8. Dust Bunny*

        There were so many Brians at my college that we gave them nicknames for when we were talking about them (but they weren’t present) so we could tell which Brian was in play: Guitar Brian, Pickle Boy, Dining Hall Brian, etc. But we called them all Brian in person.

        I currently work with three Amys and two Lizes out of maybe 40 employees. It’s just not that confusing.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I used to work with a group of women that either had the same name, or our names were close enough to get confusing for our boss. Think 2 Sharons, a Cheryl, a Shirley, and a couple of Sherrys and a Cherri. Instead of calling us by our actual name, he just called us by our hair color. ‘Hey, Blondie, did you finish the ad budget?’ and ‘Hey, Red, got a minute?’ and ‘Silver Fox, where’s that report?’

          If he couldn’t keep our names straight I probably wouldn’t have minded a nickname or qualifier like Ms. Recruiting Manager. Being reduced to our hair color was not pleasant.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          My son’s coach decided to rename the newest rhyming athlete on the team “Bob.” Because it was too confusing when yelling instructions across a field. (Bob embraced this.)

          1. I edit everything*

            There are so many “Aiden” names, and rhyming variations, in my son’s school and on his little league team. One of them just goes by the first initial of his last name. I’m going to suggest the “Bob” solution next spring.

          2. londonedit*

            There’s a footballer who plays for Chelsea called Cesar Azpilicueta. Rumour has it that his team-mates call him Dave.

        3. PT*

          We had this in my college, except with Daniels. So all of the Dans and Dannys had qualifiers before their names.

      9. Bagpuss*

        I have one brother, and my sister (“Jane” managed to end up dating a guy who has the same first name as my brother (which while not rare, isn’t massively common either) .
        So (imagine they are both called Jim) they get known as ‘Jim’ and ‘Jane’s Jim’.

        My sister and aunt have the same first name and used to be know as Big Name and Little Name, when Little was a child – now they tend to be Name + Initial of last name.

        (it does all make me think of Terry Pratchett’s feegles, and in particular “No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock”)

        1. londonedit*

          My sister and I have partners whose names are very similar (like Christian and Christopher, but not). Then I have two friends called Chris, and my hairdresser is also called Chris. So my conversations involve a lot of mentions of ‘hairdresser Chris’ and ‘running Chris’ and so on.

        2. KayDeeAye*

          My brother and BIL are both Mikes. We call them by their names+middle initials, e.g., Michael A and Michael F.

          “Mike called,” I’ll say, and my husband will say, “Michael A or Michael F?”

        3. JustEm*

          My mom is one of four. One of her brothers is married to someone with her name, and she is now married to someone with her other brother’s name. These are common names but not as ubiquitous as Mary/John

        4. Burgerler*

          Several years after my mother died, my father married a woman who had a daughter with the same name as my sister. So now when I meet someone named “Karen” (currently fraught of itself) I can respond, “Oh, I have a sister named Karen. Actually, I have two sisters named Karen.” Can lead to some interesting conversations.

      10. Lady Danbury*

        One of my ex boyfriends has the same name as my brother. For the most part it wasn’t an issue, as we lived in different countries at the time and it was usually obvious which Bob (not their name, lol) I was referring to by context. My family now refers to him as Crazy Bob due to his behavior after we broke up. :/

      11. Elenna*

        My high school class had two students with the same first *and last* names (as well as a third student with the same first name but a different last name). Neither of them went by a nickname (the name didn’t really lend itself to nicknames), so us students indeed used “big Steve” and “little Steve”. If I recall correctly, the teachers mostly used middle name initials.

        1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          The Finance department at my MegaCorp had two men with the same first, middle, and last names who were the same level and title. They constantly traded misdirected emails. Eventually one of them moved to a different department and changed his name in the work system to include the new role.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Lol – in the company I work for there are 20, yes 20 “Where’

          I am number 10. There are some misdirected emails – most are of the “cake in Dept Break room” variety and we ignore them. We do return business related ones to the sender with a “I think this was meant for someone else” note.

          1. Meghan*

            Funny enough, I was once fired becuase of a mixup in usernames.

            I’m Meghan Lastname and I started first so I was assigned A few years later Michael Lastname started and was Michael didn’t work out and was terminated, but the IT person in charge of access just ended mlastname’s account– when I called in to complain that my access was removed they said um, weren’t you terminated?

            They fixed it nearly immediately but there were a few moments of panic assuming my (less than great) manager had forgotten to fire me.

      12. Lemon balm*

        My boss and I share a name. There is also one other coworker of mine with the same name. Initials work well. There hasn’t been an issue.

        This is also not the first time a boss and I have shared a name. I just don’t understand why this was an issue and the confusion.

      13. Hagbard Shaftoe*

        In situations like this, I think it’s best to use identifying characteristics along with the person’s name: Fat Steve, Big Nose Steve, Stinky Steve, etc.

    3. Naomi*

      I work at a very small company, and yet in the time I’ve been here, there have been four or five different people who shared a first name with the boss. (A common Western male name, but still, it’s at the point where we joke that there’s a quota.) The boss goes by the common nickname for that name, and the others have used the full name with their initial tacked on.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I worked in a place where three of 10 of us had similar sounding but not the same names (think Erika, Aarikha, and Eric or Mika, Mike, and Mick) and the entire office ended up going by last names

    4. Loredena Frisealach*

      My former company had merged with a smaller company where it seemed like everyone went by their last name – turned out that when founded there were 5 men with the same first name, including the founder! It happens, and it can be confusing.

    5. Filosofickle*

      IMO the update shows the concern bore out. New Amanda had to make up a nickname because people weren’t using the initial or getting it right by context.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Yeah I wonder about that. It’s TWO people. With different jobs. How much effort was being put in? How hard was the OP trying to make it work? Sounds like the whole place just thought it was too hard and put the onus on the new person to figure out how to make it work.

          Like others have said, if teachers can figure out a classroom full of Nancys and Terrys, one small office can figure out what Amanda is being referred to IF THEY REALLY WANT TO.

          1. Jaybee*

            I think the issue was less with people in the office and more with volunteers. There’s only so much you can do about volunteers.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              I used to supervise volunteers and I agree this is where the problem probably got sticky. When you have somebody who comes in to alphabetize things two hours a week, it will take that person a lot longer to adjust to office changes than it would for someone who works in the office full time. You can get a change pushed through, but you have to be willing to keep reminding a multitude of low hours staff over and over for a longish period of time. I don’t blame OP’s employee for not wanting to go there.

              1. Smithy*

                I do think that this goes back to my suspicion that the LW was reluctant in supporting both of them work as Amanda. Because if this issue was left entirely on the new hire’s shoulders and not presented as a “team” dynamic, I can see the new hire not wanting to die on that hill.

                That may be due to dynamics specific to the OP – or it may have been due to other issues about the organization not mentioned by the OP. I knew someone who was a volunteer coordinator at a VA hospital, and my goodness the internal politics at play – I can see someone really not wanting to go to bat for a new hire around a name given how many other issues were at play on a daily basis. (If that was an issue)

                I have a very common first name for my generation, and have always gone by one version of it. I have had other people nickname me at various times – including a boss – but in terms of degrees, LinkedIn, formal professional communication, etc – I am not known by a nickname. It would really irk me to start a new job and be expected to adopt a new nickname for clarity of volunteers. Now, I do have a double barreled surname that has caused me major bureaucratic issues my entire life (professionally and personally). And if a job asked me to go by only one in my work email due to their system, I would leap at the chance because I do know the risk of miscommunication when spelling out a very long email address. So I can see specific jobs where given dynamics and/or politics, this kind of flexibility could mean different things. But I’m still warry.

        2. Random Bystander*

          I’m not really sure. Like many other commenters–I have personal experience with a workplace with “repeat” names (sometimes within the same report structure, so that there’s grandboss Christina with a boss Christina, and another Christina who reports to boss Beth who also reports to grandboss Christina (along with a few named Christi/Kristi). Along with a number of Jennifers, Cathys, and Sarahs … and context has always been adequate to keep things straight. To have so much “confusion” that a new hire feels obliged to take a work nickname just seems like the “confusion” was encouraged so that Amanda-LW could get her way.

          1. Blue Eagle*

            Obviously you have never had to manage a group of volunteers who aren’t there full time. A co-worker will put in the time to get the names correct, volunteers (when there are a whole bunch of them and you mean each and every one of them) won’t. Ask me how I know.

            1. Random Bystander*

              No, I don’t have experience managing a group of volunteers, but that quite frankly makes it *less* plausible for there to have been genuine confusion. The new hire wanted to go by “Amanda C” and instead of having that re-inforced, let the “C” drop so as to encourage the confusion.

              I stand by the impression that the letter writer wanted to encourage the confusion so as to forcibly get her way. And I find that reprehensible.

              1. Tali*

                Yeah I guess if you want to read malice into it, then it would be pretty awful… but that would be such a bizarre thing to do. Why assign malice when this could happen perfectly naturally?

      1. Smithy*

        I once started a job where I had a boss who had the same name as me and she graciously offered to go by “Smith”.

        She’d been working at the organization for about ten years, so while she never really became Smith – it offered me some space to be known as Smithy and then for context to take over. Smith is now back to being Smithy as well and in emails where distinguishing is needed our surname initials are used.

        I think by placing the burden on a new hire, there’s a lot more opportunity for confusion and someone getting lost. Whereas had the OP or a manager said, “going forward refer to me as Mandy” then it would be someone coworkers already knew. Now greater context might have been that this is a workplace where establishing your name/reputation is very difficult and perhaps both the OP and new hire were too junior for something like that. But for a future manager, I just want to advocate that offering up a nickname for a short period is a good way to ultimately allow for all parties to retain their preferred name while allowing a new hire to gain familiarity.

      2. Purple Princess*

        But at least it came from Amanda herself, rather than it being the OP making her use a nickname.

    6. Nadine*

      At my first job, I was one of three people with the same first name in an 8-10 person team. We used last names for context, and it was never a big deal.

      If new Amanda decides to call herself Mandy (or some other nickname), that’s up to her… but you don’t get to give someone else a nickname for your own convenience.

      1. reject187*

        I taught a class of 10 boys, six of whom had the same first name. We just went by last names and it worked just fine. Maybe teenage boys are more okay with that than professionals though.

    7. John Smith*

      We’ve 8 people with the same first name in a team of 50 and it’s never been an issue. On saying that, we all have nicknames for each other which people will use when referring to a particular person, but will use a person’s proper name when addressing them (if it’s known. I thought a person’s nickname was their real name. That was embarrassing!)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I like that we evolve “Jane of the Copier” and “Jane in Accounting” and “Jane who sits by Barb in Accounting.”

    8. Cheese*

      I’m confused too. Until recently there we had three employees in the same department called Nico. It never caused any problems. If someone mentioned Nico, and you weren’t sure which one they meant, you just asked. But usually it was, as you said, obvious from the context.

    9. Needs Caffeine*

      I once worked at a small company and every male coworker except one was dating or married to someone with the same name as me. I mean that was only three people, but still. That was always fun because it’s a little weird to hear your own name used in someone else’s love story (memorable occasions include “Yeah me and Katherine have been fighting a bit, it just seems like she blows everything up out of proportion.” “Oh man Kathrine gives the best foot rubs.” And my personal favorite “Me and Katherine decided to not to share a bed anymore until I get my sleep apnea under control. But don’t worry, we’re still plenty active when the kids aren’t home.”)

      1. Jessica Ganschen*

        My rabbi has the same first name as one of my friends at synagogue, and my rabbi is also fairly casual and prefers to be addressed by her first name. This has led to a little confusion every now and again, including the memorable occasion when my friend’s husband said he needed to talk to [Friend] before getting a new turtle, and another friend just could not figure out why in the world our rabbi would have jurisdiction over what pets he was allowed to get.

    10. Imprudence*

      I always thought my dad’s best friend at work had the same names as my dad. free he retired, turned out he was the only one on a team when they all started out together *not* to have that name. So guess what they called him as a nickname!

      1. Duc Anonymous*

        This is like my son’s friend group — three of his four closest friends share my son’s name, so I jokingly started calling the outlier that name and now everyone does. The name is a common one for US males (probably more top 20 than top 10) which has a nickname, but none of the boys has ever used the it (like if they were all name Michael and none went by Mike). They all feel strongly about the full name, too.

        1. Artemesia*

          The full name thing is really generational — when I was young nobody went by Elizabeth or Michael or William or whatever — EVERYONE used a nickname. I have noticed in the last few years even young kids being very insistent that they are ‘Jonathan not Jon’. Lucas not Luke. William not Bill. These kind of trends come and go.

          And it is pretty common for teachers to insist on nicknames to differentiate kids. My daughter has a fairly common name like (but not) Elizabeth. And I really dislike one of the nicknames (for no good reason). She was always called ‘Lizzy’ but once had a teacher with several Elizabeths in the classroom who renamed all of them and tried to stick my Lizzy with the disliked nickname ‘Betty’ — She stuck up for herself on that. Names are such a personal thing. If the boss really must have one of them use a nickname, she should volunteer herself to make the change.

          1. Bearded X, not Blond X or Biker X*

            I was once in a class with three other kids with my name, one of whom had my same last initial. The teacher tried assigning me one of the common nicknames and I refused to answer to it, to the point that she called my mother in for a parent-teacher conference. When she started to complain about me being disrespectful and ignoring her, Mom’s only reaction was “He isn’t ignoring you, that just isn’t his name.”

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I had that happen too – in high school, only teacher I really had problems with, and he eventually got fed up with me disrespecting him by ignoring and not responding to the “assigned nickname” and sent me on a disciplinary form to the principal. Principal actually had trouble not laughing when I explained my side – and handed me a stack of senior auction dollars, and sent me back to class. Teacher was PISSED that principal later went and had a conversation with him about respect being a two way street – and what else do you expect a student to do when you’ve indicated that you won’t even show them the basic respect of calling them by their name.
              (Yup – the teacher blasted me in class about being reprimanded for disrespecting me and not calling me by my preferred and given name.)

            2. UKDancer*

              I have a long traditional name (like Victoria). When I was at junior school people tried to shorten it and I hated it. I told one boy that if he called me “Vicky Sicky” one more time I’d thump him. He did and so I thumped him. It was the only time I got detention. My mother was firmly of the view that I had warned him and was disinclined to punish me for it.

              I refuse to answer to any of the abbreviations. They’re not my name and they’re not me. My ballet teacher has 3 of us with the same name in the class and asked if we’d let him shorten it. One of the others said she used an abbreviation. I said no but he was welcome to use a nickname for me that my parents used to use. Most of the time he just uses our second names which is fine with me.

    11. Ludo*

      And in the update the new employee got frustrated and picked a nickname? So bizarre

      People share names in the office all the time it’s not a big deal

      1. SAS*

        Yeah I’m so flummoxed as to where this would become a big deal. We have two (same role) with the same name at our office and there hasn’t been any client issues or annoyance. It would be 100x less of a problem if they were working at completely different levels like in the LW’s scenario!

        People bring precious about their own name but cavalier about others’ is my pet peeve!

      2. BethDH*

        It seems like the thing that separates this one is that it isn’t all people on the same team, who work with OP and the other Amanda regularly — it’s volunteers, who don’t have the same on boarding and regular experience with the team. Some may not realize there are two people with the same name in the first place.

        1. Silence Will Fall*

          It seems to me that the organization didn’t take the effort necessary to make it clear to their volunteer corps, possibly because the OP didn’t want to deal with it and just wanted the new hire to use a nickname.

      3. BRR*

        I forgot these were old letters and thought “why do so many people think it’s a big deal.” And while the update validates the lw’s concerns, I’m going to maintain that sharing a name is a huge non-issue. It’s such a common scenario.

      4. Person from the Resume*

        I KNOW. The problem solved itself without the LW getting heavy handed about it.

        … but it does seem that the LW was right, that this would cause confusion. I thought she was being overbearing about it, but I guess she wasn’t. It’s much better that she let the employee make the decision instead of forcing it on her.

      5. Lily Rowan*

        SO bizarre! There are always multiple people with the same name at my job, and we just use full names when it isn’t obvious by context. (I see below how it would be trickier if they had the same first AND last name, but even then! it’s just not that big a deal.)

        1. Lily Rowan*

          And like, that’s what we did in high school 30 years ago, too — the bizarre part is that this person has never dealt with someone with her same name before!

          1. doreen*

            I don’t know that that’s so bizzare – I only met one person with my first name before I graduated from college and only another three in the 30 plus years since then. I mean, it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out what to do but there was actually never really any need to distinguish me from the other Doreen’s I have known – we weren’t in the same class, only one worked for the same (very large) employer and she worked in a very different area than I did

      6. Kate*

        You would think. I once had a boss get protective of *my* name, and forced a nickname on a new hire, without my knowledge. (It’s also possible that boss was worried about her own confusion, but we work in a place with two guys who have the same actual name, and it’s just fortunate one uses a nickname, and multiple other overlapping names.) I found out *years* later about the nickname – fortunately the new hire and I are friends & can now joke about it, but it wasn’t a joke at the time. I just wish I’d known sooner – I definitely would have objected (or at least called her her real name myself!)

      7. Artemesia*

        This leads me to believe that the boss who wanted to rename her made it awkward so that the employee was essentially manipulated into making the change.

    12. Wendy Darling*

      I probably said this on the post back when it first came around but at a previous job our desks were in clusters of four and at one point my desk-cluster was me, two other people with the same first name as me, and an empty desk. My real name is not Wendy but it is similarly non-nickname-able.

      It was fine. In cases where it was ambiguous we usually went by our full names. Occasionally someone walked over and said they were looking for Wendy and we’d all be like “which one?” and if they didn’t know a last name we’d ask what this was regarding and we mercifully all had very different responsibilities so it was always clear who they needed.

      1. Wendy*

        Mine *is* Wendy, and when I was in college, my freshman year roommate (randomly assigned) was also Wendy! Only time in my life I’ve had to disambiguate. Everyone just called us [her home state] Wendy and [my home state] Wendy and it was really, truly no big deal.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I have a little-used Classical name–think Cybele, although mine doesn’t have a standard spelling–and when I got to college (a very small college) there was another girl in my year, in my dorm, who had a different spelling of the same name and also a vaguely-similar last name (like, um, Carter and Carlson).

        2. I edit everything*

          Are you sure it was random? When my brother went to college, the four guys in his dorm section had names that were all related–not the same name or sound-alikes, but all on the same theme. Think: River, Brook, Niles, and Delta. We could never prove it was intentional, but it would have been a crazy coincidence.

    13. MsSolo (UK)*

      Two of my friends have the exact same name. Not just first, not just surname, but even middle name. Luckily they were both already going by different nicknames!

      1. Bagpuss*

        My sister had this at school. My parents once spent a very confusing parents evening – particular with one class where my sister excelled, so they had a conversation which basically went “She scored 100% on the mock exam and got A+ for all of her coursework, what specificually are you concerned she is struggling with?” (The teacher had apparently managed to overlook the fact that there were two of them)

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        When I was at primary school, there were two boys two years above me with the same first and last names – they went by “Bob W Smith” and “Bob M Smith”. It was never an issue there, but rumour had it that when they went up to secondary school, someone got confused and thought there was one Bob Smith added to a list twice. The story went that at the time when they went to the high school for their taster day, everyone’s names were called out to allocate them to their new forms, and when someone called “Bob Smith” and both stood up, there was a lot of confusion before it was decided to just keep them both in the same form.

        When I started at the same high school, it was done differently and everyone got an individual letter from their head of house telling them what form they were in. I don’t know if this was a change down to the Bob Incident.

    14. Bagpuss*

      I wonder whether it was a relatively uncommon name so neither of them had come up against the situation before?
      My older sister has a name which was very popular the year she was born (she was named for our grandmother, but it turned out that it was very popular) We have a fairly common last name and there were 3 other girls in her lass of 28, at school, who had the same first name, one of whom also had the same last name.

      On the other hand, my first name is uncommon, and *very* uncommon for people in my age group – most people with it are a good 60 years older than me, and it’s relatively uncommon even in that age group – it’s become slightly more popular in the last few years as old fashioned names have become more popular, but I haven’t ever met anyone who shares it (I know one person with it on twitter, but that’s it)

      So I would probably take a moment to adjust if we had a new hire with the same name, because it would be a new experience on a personal level for me, but I’d assume that people would cope, just as they do with the fact that we have others working here who has the same name as each other.

      (We did have a situation recently where we were recruiting, and one of the candidates had the same first name as one of the members of the hiring committee. We did joke that as we already have 2 we’ve hit our quota, but it was purely a passing joke in private when we were discussing the candidates , and we did in fact go on to offer them the job because they were the best candidate.

      1. Frauke*

        I have an extremely uncommon name (in 36 years, I have only met three others with the same in person – two of them only in passing (literally saw just once) and the third has a different spelling.

        It’s very, very weird to me when I hear a reference to the name and I’m not the one being adressed. If I had to work with someone with the same name, it would take some getting used to – but I’d manage, because I’m reasonably sane (there are no possible nicknames though).

        1. Sue3PO*

          I’ve never met someone with my name spelled the same way in person – I was checking out at a shop yesterday, and when the cashier saw my name on my card she said “this is how my sister spells her name! I’ve never met anyone else who spells it the way she does!” and we had a whole moment.

      2. londonedit*

        Yep, as a 40-year-old from southern England practically everyone in my class at school was called Emma, Sarah or Jennifer. You’d have Jen, Jenny and Jennifer, or Jennifer H and Jennifer W, or whatever. People coped. My name is probably about 10-20 years out of date for my age group, so it wasn’t until I started working and came into contact with more people who were a bit older than me that I started meeting people who shared my name. Luckily I use a nickname anyway and in my experience other people either don’t or use a different spelling, so it’s never really been an issue.

      3. Risha*

        At an old job, I liked to joke that I was incredibly bitter that we started the India office because I could no longer tell people “I’m the only Risha” to email me. (She’s still the only other one I’ve worked ever with.)

    15. Cards Fan*

      Many (MANY) years ago, in a college class of about 28 students, there were 6 of us with the same first name. The instructor used first and last names to refer to us. The end.

      1. PT*

        I had a job once where there were 25? of us and I think 8 name pairs. Danielle and Daniella. Matt A. and Matt. B. Lauren A. and Lauren B. It was really silly.

    16. Asenath*

      Some of my family members have the same name – one that was the most confusing to outsiders was my uncle Bob who had a son Bob and a sister (my aunt) who married a man named Bob (so he was also my uncle). Inside the family we could always figure out who we were talking about. And a friend of mine grew up with her mother an her paternal grandmother – all three had the same first and last names. How did this person get through school, where there were almost always two or more people with the same name? It always worked out.

      1. Midwestern Scientist*

        I have a cousin whose brother is Bill and whose husband is also Bill. It’s not that hard to differentiate via context clues or to just ask (and on the other side of my fam, my grandpa goes by Bill)

        1. Shad*

          My cousin and I have partners with the same name, plus our great aunt has a stepson with that name. Our shared relatives always use my guy, cousin’s guy, and great uncle’s guy to distinguish between them.

          1. Jackalope*

            I married someone who has the same name as one of my super close friends. His wife is also one of my closest friends, and we joke about our “Toms” all the time. It has indeed been confusing, since we spend a lot of time together and of course she and I both regularly mention our own spouses, as well as the other person’s spouse. We’ve taken to using OUR initials for them so we don’t have to call them by their last names.

      2. Broadway Duchess*

        My mom has 2 sisters who both married men named, say, William. This is also the name of their brother, so I have three Uncle Williams (or in my family, because we are extra AF, it is “Uncles William” like Surgeons or Attorneys General). Luckily, one goes by Bill, one by Willy, and one by William.

        I had a son before I married my husband whose immediate family all shares the same first initial. My son’s name is the same as my husband’s oldest brother. When we were first dating, it was “my Alexander” or “your Alexander,” but they both quickly became ours, so then it was “Big Alexander” and “Alexander.” If my brother-in-law names his son Alexander, he’s probably going to be “Baby Alex” his whole life.

        1. Musereader*

          Lol I have 3 Aunty Sues because of this, – my dad’s sister, my dad’s brothers wife and my mum’s brothers wife

    17. Anima*

      I’m just so so confused about letter 1. I have an extremely common first name in my age group, there have always been up to 4 of my name, and it was only once an issue (in school, when we all sat behind eah other in a row and when the teacher made eye contact all of us – or none – answered). I am also married to someone with the male version of my first name. We’ve had conversations just between people with our name(s) and it also was not an issue. There’s always someone with our first name at work, it always worked out somehow. It’s literally a no brainer.

    18. Jennifer*

      Yes, this had me scratching my head as well. The head of my smallish team (10 or so) and I both shared the name Jennifer (and neither of us had ever used “Jenny” in our lives). And there were two more Jennifers in a dept we worked closely with. I think there’s just a whole generation of us.

      But when interfacing with folks outside of our team more broadly, it never caused any issues.

    19. Jay*

      I’m retiring at the end of the year (yay!) and my replacement starts next week. The name on her paperwork is a common nickname for my name – think Kate for Katherine. And one of the other women on our team of seven also goes by Kate. I use my full name so it hasn’t been a problem so far – Kate is Kate and I’m Katherine. The current Kate HATES her full name and will not use it, so there will be two Kates. And for a few weeks, also me!

      To make it even more fun, there’s a woman in another part of our company who has the same last name as Kate with a slightly different first name that starts the same – like Katya. So many misdirected emails.

    20. Rachel*

      I once worked in a job where we had three people in a 15-person department with very similar names…like Hannah, Anna, and Annie. We all bizarrely emphasized the different syllables when we were mentioning their names. “HAN-nah and ANN-nah have a meeting with Steve.” “Ann-NUH and Ann-NIE are working together on this.” It was confusing, but there is not really anything you can do about it!

      1. Silence Will Fall*

        I was in the community chorus in college and I swear every other girl had a ‘K’ name: Kaylie, Kylie, Kayla, Kyla, Katie, etc. And they were all blonde to boot!!!

    21. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I share an (relatively) uncommon name with a former coworker, and we were constantly getting messages and email for each other. Since my last name comes before his in the alphabet, and most computers use alphabetical sorting for name auto completion, it was mostly me getting stuff intended for him. It was occasionally inconvenient or confusing, but hardly the end of the world.

      Somewhat amusingly, after I left I’ve started doing some contract work for a one of their customers. This means I have a Slack account on their system. I still (very rarely) get messages intended for the other guy.

    22. Generic Name*

      Ha, yeah, at one point my company of 25 people had 4 Tims and 3 versions (spelled differently) of Karen.

    23. nobadcats*

      I’ve got two Heathers and two Melissas on my team. I just use their last initials in correspondence (and with the rest of the team), and on their assignments. Worked out perfectly, no confusion at all, even with cross-teams. Although, we are all remote.

    24. ThatGirl*

      My last job had multiple Melissas and Meghan/Megans, and you know what, we just used their department or last name, and it was fine. Same with my current job – there seem to be a multitude of Michelles.

    25. Person from the Resume*

      If you reed the update, the LW was right that the name caused confusion, and the employee chose to go by a nickname after a few weeks because this confusion was that frustrating.

      I agree with the person who said that this may be an uncommon name so this is the first time the LW encountered it. Because people with common names have dealt with this throughout their lives and have gotten by. A lot of them and their associates get by with nicknames or by adding last names, last initials, or descriptors.

      Example: A relative had a friend group in college that included both a male and female Alex. It seems likely their full names were Alexander and Alexandra, but not necessarily because I know a person whose full name is “Alex”. The solution for this group of friends was to call them “Boy Alex” and “Girl Alex.” It seems that Boy Alex and Girl Alex ended up dating each other. In this same group was a number of girls with an extremely common and popular name for their age. One of them goes by her last name, say “Danvers”. Then her younger sister joins her at college and everyone calls her “Little Danvers.”

      People and groups will work it out if the names are causing confusion, but it is perfectly okay for someone to say that they do not want to by something and suggest an alternate.

      1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

        Except that the OP shares the same first name… so she must have encountered it a time or two?

        I suspect that in this case the problem is simply the volunteers, just like the OP said. Workmates and classmates are people you encounter every day and it’s both important and relatively easy to remember multiple Charlies in that situation. A volunteer may come by only once a week or less, may not encounter the same people each time, and definitely isn’t getting paid to remember that a Charlie mentioned in the context of spouts is Charlie S. while a Charlie mentioned in the context of getting llama hair out of the paint-pots is Charlie H. But if hair gets in the paint-pot at an event they’ll need to know quickly who to contact.

    26. alienor*

      Yeah, my name’s uncommon enough that I’ve only met a handful of other people with it in my life, but I’ve worked with what feels like hundreds of Jennifers and Joshuas, most of whom went by Jen and Josh. We just referred to them as “Jen R” or “Josh [lastname]” and it was never a big deal.

    27. Blythe*

      In my class in college, there were several people with very similar names— think Susan, Suzanne, Susannah, etc. When I met the fourth person with a name like that within about 20 minutes, I laughed, “Someone needs a nickname!” I can’t remember the exact conversation that led to this, but I have been calling that woman a completely random nickname for the past 15 years (think “Jeff”).

      In retrospect, that really wasn’t very polite of me and I am fortunate she wasn’t offended. She is one of my best friends, though, so I guess it worked out.

      1. ThatGirl*

        When I was in college we knew like half a dozen guys named Dan (none of whom went by Daniel), so I remember my friends and I running through a list of potential nicknames for the newest one, and he kept yelling “veto! veto!” so we decided his nickname was Veto.

    28. KayDeeAye*

      I also just didn’t understand what the OP was fussed about. I have worked with many pairs or even trios of same-name folks – at one time, my 55-employee company had three Bobs in the same department! – and I’ve been half of one of those pairs from time to time, and it really, really, really wasn’t a big deal. “Bob W,” “Bob who handles this specific issue,” “Kathleen with the brown hair”…people figure it out.

    29. DireRaven*

      If we have two (or more) people with the same name, if it isn’t obvious by context clues, I’d probably lean towards the (militaristic) tradition of just using last names.

      When the unit had, say, a pair of spouses in the same unit with the same rank, it was difficult to always say “Sergeant Smith” and people know which one you were talking about (or to) – so it became “Sergeant first name Smith” or “Sergeant Mr./Mrs. Smith” (Mrs. Sergeant Smith is the wife of Sergeant Smith who holds no rank of her own.)

    30. EmmaPoet*

      I worked in one office where a department had three employees, all named Jane. They went by Miss Jane, Janey, and Janetta. It worked just fine.

    31. generic_username*

      Yeah, I feel like I’m missing something here? I have one of the most common names in my age group in the US (like, it was the #1 name for my gender for about 7 years both before and after my birth) so this happens to me often (sometimes there are even 3-4 of us)… it’s never caused more than a slight inconvenience of having to use last names/initials when talking about the people or of having to ask someone if they were talking to me or the same-named person near me.

    32. Emily*

      As an Emily born in the early ’90s, there’s no escaping other people with my name! I sometimes find it vaguely annoying that my parents weren’t more creative (especially since my last name is also somewhat common), but it’s not usually that big of a deal. Sometimes other people adopt nicknames (I don’t really go by any shortenings of my name), sometimes we use initials or descriptors or context clues. I’m still kind of surprised it was such an issue at this workplace!

      1. PT*

        My BIL is your age and once out of curiosity once I asked him how many Emilys he had dated.

        He said several.

      2. inksmith*

        Until she left, I (an Emily) sat next to another Emily – we officially designated which of us was Em (me) and which was Emily (her) so we wouldn’t both respond every time someone said Emily. Though my best friend through middle and high school was also called Emily, so it didn’t seem too weird to me – she and I were collectively known as Em(squared) :)

    33. Aquawoman*

      My son’s name is Jack and there was another Jack in his preschool, but his Mom did not like him being called by his last initial, because calling her kid Jack S didn’t sound so good.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yeah – that one does sound just a bit problematic, have to agree with mom not liking it.

    34. Hannah Lee*

      Yeah I didn’t understand OP’s concern at all. I once worked in a department of 6 people. The boss was a woman “Maureen” The staff was 3 women and 2 men. All three of the women had the same, not common but not unheard of first name, spelled and pronounced the exact same way (it’s a name that has variations of both) None of us “Caitlyns” used a nickname either professionally or in our social life. So we all went by Caitlyn at work. It was a small department, but in a large multinational company, where each one of us dealt with 100+ contacts in many other departments in person and/or remotely via phone or email, and we had some contacts in common. And yet, people had no trouble figuring out who was who.

      Part of the reason for that is there were clear definitions of roles and responsibilities for each of us; even though we did the same kind of work, we each had a particular product line we were responsible for. Another part of the reason is we were all professional, so if something happened to come to us that was meant for a different Caitlyn, we just forwarded it on, usually reponding to the source and cc’ing the other Caitlyn (Oh, hi, thanks for your request. That is something my department handles. Caitlyn P. manages the details for that project, so I’m cc’ing her here. If you even need something RE (my area) don’t hesitate to ask) In situations where more then one of us was involved, we just added our last initial.

      The OP just came across as a bit insecure, as though they thought their colleagues and contacts and the world at large might think New Amanda was OG Amanda and would somehow gain turf, accolades, etc which were due to OG.

    35. Too many Annas*

      I have been with a new job for a month and there’s three in our team. Unfortunately me and my colleague are both Anna K, with very similar last names, which is causing no end of havoc, especially when our boss tries to address us. As I was last in, I’ve decided to go by AJ which are my first two initials. I don’t really mind, and it makes life easier for everyone. But that suggestion did come from me. My poor boss was determined that we would both be Anna but we work too closely together for that to be feasible.

    36. DataGirl*

      I just checked a statistics site and there are nearly 500,000 women in the US alone with my name. That’s not counting alternate spellings or people with the masculine version of my name. I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have at least one other person with my name- right now there are 3 of us in a department of 10. Maybe my perspective is skewed because I’ve always been one of many, but I just can’t see how it would be problematic for two people to share the same name- you just learn really quickly to identify who is being referred to by context.

    37. korangeen*

      There are SIX Mike’s or Michael’s in my department, and every single one of them is involved in the project I’m currently working on. I usually refer to them by their last name, but a lot of people don’t, they just say Mike or Michael. It’s usually decipherable from context, but there can be confusion from time to time. They even joke that anyone else working with them is an “honorary Mike.”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Re honorary Mike, my old job did have a running joke that “your name has to be Amy for you to qualify to work here.”

    38. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right?! I have, at various times, worked with six Bills, four Marks, and six Amys. No one had any problem using a last name or an initial. How is it a new and confusing issue for, apparently, everyone at OP’s company?

    39. Orange You Glad*

      Yea, for a time there were 6 different Roberts in the financial team of my company, including the CFO. The CFO was Robert, most of the rest went by Rob. Throw in the IT guy named Bobby for added complexity. We never had an issue because it was common to say Rob B, Rob C, or Rob LastName. Context usually meant we didn’t need to clarify which Rob we were talking about.

    40. EchoGirl*

      If I had to guess, I’d guess that the name in question is a lot less common than Amanda. In my experience (as a person with an uncommon name whose sibling has a very common name), people with common names tend to be accustomed to the idea that multiple people in any given space may share their name, while people with uncommon names are really not used to hearing their name used to refer to anyone other than themselves. I once watched a TV episode where a character had my name and it was a really strange feeling to hear my name mentioned multiple times over the course of an hour and not have it be referring to me.

      To be clear, this isn’t to say that OP is in the right, I’m just thinking about specifically why OP would think of it as something that needs attention paid to it, and this is the only explanation that makes any sense to me.

    41. anon for this*

      I actually talked with some folks about a similar situation recently. Going as anon though I’m a frequent reader/commenter. I work with folks who work with truck drivers and truck dispatchers. In this call center, they also made people choose nicknames. The reason was that when a truck driver called in to coordinate with the person who’d booked them for that truck, they would never know last names, they just know they need to talk to Bo or Angie or whatever. It’s a very busy, noisy, fast-paced environment, and it really did cause bad outcomes to be connected with the wrong Nick. The wrong Nick would need to look through his 35 scheduled appointments, confirm that the truck driver wasn’t on one of them, figure out the right Nick, reconnect the driver to the right Nick, etc, all while yelling over the phone in a high stress situation. So everyone got a unique short nickname, and that’s that.

    42. Worker bee*

      I was also confused about the concern. At my company, it was almost a running joke that you’re hired if you have certain names. At one point, we had something like 10 Bob’s, 7 Lisa’s, 5 Mark’s, and about a half dozen other names of two people each; not to mention the people with the same pronunciation, but different spelling.

      It’s a bit tricky when someone new is hired, but we adapt quickly. And I will say that the vast majority of these people are ones that I rarely, if ever, interact with, but it’s easy enough to get clarification that we’re talking about Bob in Llama Grooming rather than Bob in Sheep Shearing at Ravenclaw (or Bob in Sheep Shearing at Hufflepuff) or Bob, Head of Hogwarts.

      My parents named me one thing, but have called me by a nickname my entire life. When I started Kindergarten, I was excited to be called by my actual name, but there ended up being 3 others with my name in the class, so my mom said I go by X. When the exception of a single teacher in jr high, who actually asked me what I wanted to be called, I wasn’t called by my actual name until I went to college. I’m polite but firm when people try to call me by the (common) nickname, because that’s not my name.

  2. Dark Macadamia*

    I’m glad #1 has an update, and amazed that two adults who can’t handle the confusion of sharing a name ended up at the same tiny company! I have an extremely common name for my age and the most difficulty it’s ever brought was occasionally hearing another kid’s mom calling for them at the store, and quickly realizing they didn’t mean me.

    1. Jacey*

      What’s fascinating to me is that it seems the whole office didn’t handle it well! I’ve never known of a situation like this where people didn’t use the last initial religiously. Heck, I was once in a group with three Rachels, two of whom had the same last initial, and we just said last names aloud. It was no big deal.

      1. Andy*

        I never seen the last initial being used in professional context. In some friends groups when I was kid yes, not since adulthood.

        And there were name clashes and it was never an issue. People just were aware that first name can be ambiguous, so if unclear, they asked or clarified by last name.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah I also see full name used more often than first name last initial, but if someone specifically asked for their last initial to be used I have a hard time imagining a place I’ve worked would not respect that.

          1. M*

            I work with someone who has the same first name as my brother. So when I am talking about something with my partner and I mention George, if there’s some confusion, my partner just says, “work George or brother George?” It’s really as easy as that.

            1. S. Ninja*

              And I once had supervisors at two part-time jobs have the same name- “(Job1) Matt” or “(Job2) Matt” was usually all that was needed as a qualifier.

        2. Jacey*

          You know, you’re right! As an adult it really is usually the full name, or, as some people suggested below, a “functional” nickname (Accounting John and IT John, etc). The Rachels example was from childhood.

      2. NYWeasel*

        I worked in an office of maybe 40-50 people that had something like 8 Daves. We’d jokingly say they all had to go by last names, but I heard sentences like “I was talking with Dave, and Dave joined us to say that Dave is going to update the file Dave was working on.” where no one even needed any additional information because we could tell who each “Dave” referred to contextually.

        I have a much rarer first name, and the few times I’ve been in a situation with another NYWeasel, there’s always that initial moment of “oh yeah, there’s another one of us around”, but nothing ever to a level where we’d be having massive problems 3 weeks later. There was one point where Sam and I were interviewing two candidates named Sam and NYWeasel, and we had fun teasing each other about the possibility of having a name twin on the team. As luck would have it, we hired a “Frannie” lolll.

        1. LunaLena*

          Ha, that reminds me of how, in the Discworld books, the criminal world has so many people named “Dave” that they start having names like “Bigger-Than-Small-Dave Dave.”

          I too have a relatively rare first name but have always hated it, so I go by my middle name. It doesn’t help that it’s an old-fashioned name to begin with, and was apparently very popular about a hundred years ago, because the inevitable response I get to it is “oh my grandmother/great-aunt/other elderly female had that name.” I’ve only met one other woman around my age who shares that name, and she went by her middle name too. My middle name, on the other hand, is an extremely common Korean name that also happens to be a relatively common name in English, so in high school there were three of us (all Korean) with that name. Everyone just called us Name LastName.

      3. Nora*

        Or if they didn’t use the last initial, Rachel from accounting etc has worked fine in all offices I worked in. I worked at one very large place where people worked cross team a lot and it was normal to say “finance Alex” so you could immediately place them out of context.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          That only works, if there is only one Rachel in Accounting. Where I used to work, it was a joke that any new employee had to be named “Shelia” because 1/2 the department (2) had that name.

          No confusion.

    2. Riley and Jonesey*

      I have an extremely common name but it’s never really been a problem.
      Wasn’t there a high school soccer team somewhere in the USA where all of the girls were called Taylor? That made me chuckle a bit.

    3. Rebecca*

      Right? Children navigate this all the time. I teach primary school and I don’t think I’ve EVER had a class that didn’t have at least 1 name pair in the group.

      I think this has more to do with ‘people need to know I’m the one in charge’ than any real practical concerns, because, again: children manage it all the time.

      1. Koalafied*

        Yeah, that line raised my eyebrow. Ok, people need to know you’re in charge – but how does another Amanda being on staff cause any confusion around that? I’m trying to imagine the specific scenario where somehow people would just… mentally assign the first Amanda’s role to all Amandas they meet?

        It seems to me like most volunteer communication is either going to take place over email, where last names are visible in the address/to field even if they aren’t explicitly called out in the body of the email; or they’re in person where faces are visible, so in either case, how is one Amanda getting mistaken for another? It should be obvious to the volunteers whom they’re speaking to or emailing with.

        And if a third party says, “Go see Amanda about that,” what is the scenario where 1) they decide to go to see the new Amanda instead of the one they’re used to being told to go see, or 2) with new volunteers, that results in anything more than having to say a single time, “oh, I’m the wrong Amanda! You want Amanda S for volunteer scheduling.” People are very unlikely to be so thrown by this that they keep repeatedly going to the wrong Amanda after having been redirected once already because they’re left in doubt about which Amanda they should be reporting to.

      2. Humble Schoolmarm*

        This year alone I’m teaching 5 Ellens, 3 of which are all Ellen J. Luckily they aren’t in the same class s it’s much easier than the year of the 4 Madisons (3 of whom were in the same class and all of whom had very strong feelings about whether it was Madison, Maddie, Maddy or Madi).

    4. BethDH*

      I feel like people really aren’t talking about the part of this where they worked with a lot of volunteers. It still surprises me a bit, but it does seem very different than daily coworkers not being able to cope. They’re trained differently and work with the team less regularly than a staff member. Depending on how the volunteers are set up and what they do, some of them may not really use much email with the org, and may not have a point where they meet the whole team formally.

      1. Rebecca*

        That’s true! But it still is as simple as “nope, wrong Amanda, you want room 302!” It’s a minor inconvenience at best, and will work itself out over time.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I volunteer with an org where there are 12 “Mikes”, 2 of whom work for the organization, 3 of whom work for agencies we work with, and the rest are volunteers and we have ended up using titles/agency names for the 5 who are employed and “Mike from ____” for the volunteers. As a volunteer, only think I need to know is that I report to BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Mike and Forestry Mike if BLM Mike isn’t around and my point of contact at the org that placed me is Volunteer Placement Mike not Grant Mike.

      3. KayDeeAye*

        I work with volunteers a lot too. It’s never been an issue. They’ll say “Kathleen” and someone will say “Which Kathleen?” and they’ll say “the Kathleen who takes photos,” and we all move on with our lives.

      4. PT*

        Yeah, I mean, it is a silly problem. But I’ve also worked with community nonprofits and communities can get persnickety! You just have to roll with it and accept the things you cannot change, which is whatever foible your community has decided to lock onto as a collective.

        You get a group who only allows classical music or can’t tolerate a 30 second change in schedule even if it’s due to a serious emergency or who decides to drag their feet during transition time because they’re resentful that Group B is coming in to use the space after them and they want to transition out at a slow leisurely pace? Well then you’re just going to have to work around it.

    5. BRR*

      I’m really riled up about #1 for some reason. I think because it’s not a big deal but the update is reinforcing that it is a challenge.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yeah, I dislike when people call fake on letters, but I honestly feel like the update is… exaggerated. The original letter is such a silly/unlikely problem, but the update gives the LW the exact outcome they wanted without it being their fault? I just find it hard to believe that multiple people were incapable of saying “Amanda C” to the point that she would choose to go by Mandy when she previously didn’t want to! Either this office somehow attracts a lot of people who have weird issues with names, or someone really wanted us all to believe they were right that this very common situation is an insurmountable problem lol

    6. RJ*

      This was my reaction too. I am genuinely baffled that they were able to be that confused and make it so complicated.

  3. Somewhere in Texas*

    For anyone that falls into a similar space as LW2: I always default to being the photographer in these spaces (like to the extent I got the official jersey for our company softball tourney with “ PHOTOGRAPHER” on it). This let me be with everyone and enjoy the day, but bring my skill set. I love Allison’s other recommendations as well.

    1. banoffee pie*

      such a good idea. if everyone copied it there might be more photographers than players though ;)

    2. Daffodilly*

      I do this quite often as well. Works for things like company skits at the holiday party, team building exercises, etc. too. I always say “Why don’t I bring in my big camera and get some photos?” No one has ever said no, and because I have the skills and gear I get good photos and I really try to make them flattering, not embarrassing.

    3. Artemesia*

      Great idea because you can edit the photos and make them look great and send the best ones that include everyone (across a handful of photos) to the team. Lots of people like getting shots of themselves.

    4. OftenOblivious*

      As part of our attempts to bond several remote teams, we’re supposed to share photos of department gatherings. No one remembers to take photos — at one point they asked for someone to specifically volunteer to take photos whenever we’ve done a department fun things. Now the managers try to remember.

      I also find that when people are pretty good at sports, they get pretty frustrated with people who are pretty mediocre at sports (understandably). There are times when we’re really doing something sporty just for fun and no one truly cares that there’s very few successful passes/throws/catches/etc, but it generally happens more with friends who are just looking for an excuse to hang out.

    5. nozenfordaddy*

      I’m a fat klutz with balance issues, even if I wanted to play volleyball or tennis or go hiking I am a walking worker’s comp claim waiting to happen. I jokingly tell coworkers inquiring about my interest in some sort of physical activity that ‘I do not sport’. No really, no sports of any sort coworker who wants to assure me its not competitive and just for fun. I once broke my arm while working out. I sprained my back dancing at a party in college. I gave myself a black eye because I walked into an overhang in the dark. You don’t want me attempting to sport. That way lies madness.

  4. Heidi*

    I really want to know what LW4 ended up doing. Claim to have a twin? Elaborate disguise? Ghost? Show up to the interview and pretend nothing weird was going on?

    1. AnonAnon*

      For LW4’s own sake, I hope they ghosted. I can’t think of any other way that would end well.

      I do feel sorry for LW4 – getting rejected after the 3rd round sucks! Unfortunately, it does reminds me of when someone gets blocked on social media by the object of their affection, but they refuse to accept it so they make another account under a different name to keep following their target, asking “Hey did you get my DM? you left me on read. Why didn’t you reply? why did you block me?”

        1. Sandi*

          So many companies ghost, including this one, that I don’t think it matters if the LW didn’t respond to an email.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Although LW4 seemed to think their actions were perfectly normal up until the piece about the alias, the way they wrote it sounds like they likely were being *very* aggressive with trying to get in touch with the company. It sounds like they got pretty good feedback, waited a week, and then sent a deluge of phone calls and emails on days 8 and 9. Then they got so frustrated about the lack of response to the deluge that they went way to the left with the alias plan.

      However you slice it, LW4 burned about 6 bridges with this company. I kind of don’t think it matters how they resolved the alias problem; they took themselves out of the running for future employment with this company in a number of ways.

      1. BRR*

        I caught that as well from the letter. It sounds like it’s some mix of “as an applicant, there will be waiting periods with no contact” and “sometimes you won’t hear back about jobs that you’re qualified to do.” They’re both really tough lessons to learn but are also super common.

        1. EPLawyer*

          the person got soooo caught up in “I’ve got this job, they loved me, they said so” that they lost perspective.

          No job is yours until you have the offer in hand. Unfortunately lots of companys are terrible about notifying people when they go with someone else, even in later rounds when there are fewer people to notify. You have to accept it as part of the job search process. If you don’t hear back, you don’t hear back. Move on.

      2. Yessica Haircut*

        I entirely agree with this take. I hope for the letter writer’s sake that they didn’t go through with it all and never revealed who they were. Because if a nice, normal seeming candidate offers an excuse like, “So sorry, my name is actually Wakeena Smith, but I see my application went through as Fergusette Jones due to a recent name change,” then it might be a little odd, but ultimately wouldn’t ding their candidacy. But if you get that excuse from someone who’s already been persistently harassing the hiring manager and HR team, and sending increasingly frustrated emails in a short period of time after not immediately hearing back? That person has probably already become A Company Story, and it becomes embarrassingly transparent that they’re using a weird, dishonest gambit with the pseudonym to force contact.

      3. Amaranth*

        I’m fascinated by the casual reference to ‘my alias’…because everyone has one, you know.

      4. LuckyLopunny*

        Reminds me of an applicant we had where I work. “Amy” applied at a rental property my employer owns in a neighboring city, got an interview, and her cousin “Tammy” (who managed the rental property across the street) drove their golf cart over and asked why the manager hadn’t followed with Amy! Tammy then called every single property my employer owns in that city to get updates on Amy’s behalf!!! This all happened about week or so before Amy applied for the opening where I work.

        I don’t know if Amy put Tammy up to it or if Tammy was acting of her own accord, but either way Amy did not get the job at either property.

        Just… Don’t harass your potential employers folks.

    3. Jay*

      I’ve known a couple of POC who have done something similar, applying for a job with a stereotypically ‘white’ name. It’s usually to see if racial bias (conscious or unconscious) played a significant part in their rejection. Heck, my own grandfather used an ‘American’ name for most of his life, rather than his birth name, which was very, very ethnic.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s not very similar. This isn’t someone who was discriminated against through no fault of their own; this is someone who can’t handle rejection. They didn’t get an offer and persisted in “trying to reach HR, the team, and everyone,” for some incomprehensible reason or other. Really wanting a job is not a legitimate or sensible reason to pester the hiring team, or to apply again pretending to be someone else.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Agreeimg with @pancakes.

          LW#4 made it through three rounds of interviews. The “change your name to not be screened out as a POC” applies to being filtered out before the initial interview. That bias *is* backed up by data, though it’s not applicable to LW#4’s situation.

          I do wonder, why didn’t LW4 apply normally to the new role and mention in the cover letter the previous interviews?

          1. pancakes*

            I wonder about that too. They made it as far as the third round, which means the company clearly thought they had good potential as a candidate. That’s something to capitalize on, not something to try to hide.

        2. Sleet Feet*

          It’s pretty comprehensible – after investing so much time in interviews OP wanted some feedback.

          1. pancakes*

            This is an overly-literal reading of “incomprehensible.” Wanting something isn’t license to pursue it without any regard to how doing so will come across.

          2. Deborah*

            Yeah but Bob Smith wasn’t going to get feedback about why Joe Jones didn’t get the job even if he dons a successful disguise.

            1. Sleet Feet*

              I’m not saying it was understandable to create a new profile. I was responding to this: They didn’t get an offer and persisted in “trying to reach HR, the team, and everyone,” for some incomprehensible reason or other

              I find it both reasonable and understandable to reach out to the few contacts you had when rejected after a 3rd round interview with no feedback. You can reach out once then you need to move on.

    4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      A white lie is the best way to get out. Someone like “sorry, I recently changed my name and couldn’t edit my profile in the application system, so I created another one”. Depending on how long ago OP applied in the first place and how clear the job posting is, adding “I thought this was a different position”, might work.

    5. Yessica Haircut*

      Part of me hopes a fake moustache, very silly wig, and/or Elizabeth Holmes-style voice changing came into play at some point, but ultimately, I really hope the letter writer just cancelled the interview, claiming the position would no longer work for them, and never disclosed who they were. Any other outcome is too embarrassing to consider.

  5. Ashkela*

    LW4 just blows my mind. You have to sign documentation that everything to the best of your knowledge is accurate in your application. Making up a name is more than a little bit inaccurate.

    1. londonedit*

      In my industry we don’t really use application forms, you just apply with a CV and cover letter, so I’ve never actually signed anything to say the information is correct. You just assume it will be! It’s a small industry so anyone lying would be found out pretty quickly. Having said that, I also have no idea what LW4 hoped to accomplish by doing this. The minute they turn up for an interview, the game is up! I can only assume that they were hoping to ‘get a foot in the door’ and then wow their interviewers so much that they’d overlook all the weirdness, realise they’d made a terrible mistake in not hiring them before, and offer them a job on the spot.

      1. Le Sigh*

        We have a similar process — you just send in a resume and cover letter. But I would still find it really concerning and a huge red flag if I found out the person wasn’t who they said they were, regardless of whether they checked a box. I would cancel that interview immediately.

  6. Natalie*

    I have one rather funny experience with LW1’s situation. At one place I worked, the CEO was named Don Puddifoot and then we hired an intern named Dan Puddifoot. No one noticed this until he received highly confidential information via email three times in his first week. HR changed his name to Daniel Puddifoot in work systems without prompting, and it was probably for the best.

    1. Jacey*

      I just wanted to comment that Puddifoot is a fantastic name (made up, I assume to anonymize the story?).

    2. SAS*

      LOL! Okay, I commented above that there’s never been same-name problems where I’ve worked but I did forget about when a travel booking (to an extremely remote and risky area) for Bob Benson-Jones at our office was sent to Bob Benson at another regional office who phoned our admin very confused and alarmed!

      1. Jay*

        I’m a doc and for several years was in private practice with a partner. Let’s say I was Smith and she was Jones. There was also a surgeon in the hospital named Smith-Jones. We were not surgeons. I quickly learned that whenever I was paged to the post-op unit, they were not actually looking for me….

      2. Le Sigh*

        Ugh, yeah I had this happen. Worked for a company with offices around the country and our names weren’t identical but very similar. A lot of stuff would get misdirected, especially by external folks. Fortunately we worked for the same company and just used the forward button — but when my boss accidentally sent the other person an email about my performance review, I had to remind everyone in the office, including him, more than once, to be a lot more careful.

      3. Ariaflame*

        I have worked at a university where a physics technician had the same name as one of the senior leadership group. I think there was an initial difference in the email.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      We had something similar once – let’s say my coworker, a technician carrying out minor adaptations to homes, was Don Puddifoot and the then-CEO was Don Puddlecombe. The same thing happened with emails. Nothing was changed in the email systems for those two, but when another coworker in the same job (let’s say Bob Smith) started getting emails meant for the new starter Bob Smith in HR, they did add the job titles to both Bobs in systems then (after HR Bob complained).

    4. Forgot My Name Again*

      Similarly, until I was married and changed my name, I had the same first name and surname as someone about 15 grades higher and in charge of a medical department here. Most of the time it was fine as our paths didn’t even remotely cross, but every so often someone wouldn’t check the email address carefully enough and I’d be sent a pile of PhD applications for approval or something.

    5. Yorick*

      Once, my coworker ran to the bank to deposit all our paychecks. She lost my deposit slip but had my check, so they looked it up by name. But they didn’t check that my address on the check was the same as the address on the bank account, so they put the money in the wrong Yorick Jones’s account.

      I did get my money back later, but it took being at the bank all afternoon because the other Yorick had spent the money and they were trying not to have her account go negative.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Which is not as bad as what the bank did to me. I deposited a check for a specific dollar and another differently named person deposited a check for that same dollar amount as part of a deposit of 4 checks. That check bounced and guess whose account was hit with the check amount (apparently because mine was the only deposit for that exact amount) – – mine. I went to the bank to complain and the teller said – it must be yours because it is for that amount and when presented with the check said – I don’t know what to do about that. Luckily the manager had brains and was able to put the money back in my account.

  7. X-Man*

    At least OP 1 wasn’t as bad as the letter writer who wanted to ask their employee to change their “exotic” (aka non-white) name to something more “friendly.”

        1. River Otter*

          It comes across poorly as written, but OP has a point. It is pretty crucial that people looking for Amanda get the right Amanda.

          1. Jaybee*

            I don’t think it even comes across as poorly written. It is important for volunteers to know who’s in charge. I’m bewildered by all of the commenters here who insist on ignoring parts of this question to get the most uncharitable possible reading – makes me wonder if anybody here has ever actually worked with someone outside their organization.

            We still have mail, etc. from a third-party servicer that comes addressed to someone who hasn’t worked in our department in years. They won’t change it no matter who we tell. And they’re PAID to work with us. Imagine what happens when a whole gaggle of volunteers, some of who may be less computer literate, get the email for the wrong ‘amanda’ stuck in their auto-fill/contacts and don’t know how to change it.

            1. Le Sigh*

              I mean, I’ve worked with several organizations that deal with volunteers and are large enough to have multiples of one name. Having multiples of one name is such a common issue (in general, maybe not for OP), that it’s something that shouldn’t be super hard to address and it doesn’t require making someone change their name. I think people are reacting to what feels like OP over-dramatizing the stakes.

            2. anonymous73*

              Yes, it is important to be aware of the person in charge, but when someone has the audacity to think it’s okay to ask someone to use a different name, they don’t get a pass. There’s are other ways to approach this issue, and thinking it’s okay to consider asking someone else to change their name is not one of them – especially when they’re brand new and this is the first thing you request of them.

              This is a common issue in many workplaces, and the OP was making it all about HER.

            3. Siege*

              You get the situation I had where multiple students put the wrong email address in and couldn’t work out how to change the autofill (or, apparently, how to read and double check data). I ended up going to IT to nuke several email addresses, including one that belonged to my dad (who had never used it and didn’t know he had it) because we have the same initial and last name and they’d changed the structure of their emails in the intervening 15 years so that people could plausibly think his email was mine, and it would go to a box no one ever even suspected existed.

              Then I had to reach out to the webhost I was using for that class so that they would change the name on the donotreply@ address for the class site so that one student in particular would stop responding to automated emails with problems she was having (it wasn’t my name, but the default was something like SiteName DoNotReply). In her case, I suspected early onset of dementia; she was an older student and some of her decisions were strange in a way that’s hard to describe, but I was an unsupported adjunct in my 20s and I didn’t know what to do, so I ended up with the position that she lives with someone full time and it is her wife’s job to bring up possible mental health issues, not the adjunct who’s known her for four weeks. Not my finest moment, but I just had no clue.

            4. Worker bee*

              I’m bewildered that you think the solution is to have someone change their name to make things easier. Assuming these volunteers use email to contact the OG Amanda, they likely have her email memorized or saved, so having a new Amanda won’t be that confusing. And if they do email the new Amanda, she can let them know and forward the emails. Many of the 60+ crowd can make the adjustment and the ones who can’t, will probably ask for help or just not worry about it.

              Frankly, I think this wasn’t about emails, but more about the LW wanting to make sure that the volunteers knew the Amanda they’d be interacting with wasn’t the “Amanda in Charge” and to make the new new Amanda well aware of her “place”.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I still remember that letter, and I’ve never wanted to pull a reverse UNO on the OP so badly.

  8. Jacey*

    I hope that OP 3 took Alison’s advice, but I can understand the impulse to reach out. It’s so frustrating to see someone you like and are rooting for make mistakes!

      1. Lady Danbury*

        That’s literally the purpose of a PIP! Obviously OP is allowed to fire whoever she wants, but it comes across as disingenuous for someone who let their temporary frustration override their intention to follow a common norm for helping an employee that you like and want to see succeed to now claim that they’re invested in the former employee’s success. Especially since it seems like the decision to fire them was completely impulsive.

      2. Office Lobster DJ*

        Agreed. Part of me wonders if this was something OP3 wanted to do to feel better about themself. The way it’s written, sounds like OP acted on a frustrated impulse and fired the employee, even when they had already decided on a course of action/PIP. They’re clearly unhappy with how things played out after the employee (who frankly may have figured they’d have been put on a PIP if things were “that bad”) didn’t respond with an open heart to being fired.

      3. Jacey*

        Oh, I completely agree. I don’t agree with how OP handled the situation and I hope they took the advice not to reach out now.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Really? What do you call “All her issues aside, I really liked her and want to see her succeed” ?

        1. WellRed*

          OP 1, I hope you’ve grown more comfortable in yourself and your role as the “person in charge”

        2. Jacey*

          Yeah, that’s the part I was responding to. I think the OP let their frustration get the better of them when they fired instead of going through with the PIP, but I don’t think that negates their other feelings toward the employee.

      2. Nora*

        I agree, it seemed very self-important to me. The moment when you’re firing someone by phone without a thorough PIP is not the time to complain that they are not internalizing what you say. Why in the world would you think they want to hear from you again weeks later?

        1. tessa*


          Also, where was that same advice before the employee got fired? What’s the point of giving it post-firing unless the employer is going to give fired employee a second chance?

          Frankly, if I were fired employee and the person who fired me tried to have such a conversation, I’d hang up ASAP. “Hi fired employee, it’s Jane from Slinkies Inc., and even though you don’t work here anymore, I wanted to talk with you about how you can improve——-“

          “Kiss my ass.” Click.

          1. MoreFriesPlz*

            Exactly. Either OP already shared the feedback and it didn’t make any difference, in which case this last time when you now have 0 authority is highly unlikely to be the time that matters, or OP hadn’t said it before, in which case they were being a crappy manager. The time to start coaching someone is NOT after you fire them.

    1. anonymous73*

      Reaching out and trying to help would have been appropriate while she was still an employee. OP states they had discussions, but I wonder how clear they were about expectations. If they were clear and employee still didn’t get it, you can’t make someone hear something they don’t want to hear.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        “If they were clear and employee still didn’t get it, you can’t make someone hear something they don’t want to hear.”

        I think this is where I fall on this letter. The OP mentioned conversations – plural – about job expectations, and then the day after what turned out to be the last conversation short of a PIP the fired employee again failed to meet expectations. From lots of experience in coverage based jobs you really only have so much time you can invest in getting the employee to meet expectations before you have to cut bait and get somebody else in the job (otherwise you loose the whole team).

        1. EmmaPoet*

          Agreed. This person didn’t listen when they were pulled in for two different meetings about their issues, I don’t think they’re going to magically take this on now after being fired.

          1. Office Lobster DJ*

            With the caveat that yes, we take LW’s at their word around here, I’m sure we’ve all seen managers thinking they had serious “conversations” when they watered things down to the point of severely undermining their own message. I personally took the “multiple conversations” with a grain of salt and think there was a possibility a formal PIP might have gotten through to the employee.

            1. anonymous73*

              Exactly – this is why I said what I said above. Not accusing the OP of lying or exaggerating, but we see lots of letters here where a manager THINKS they’re being clear and setting expectations, but it’s open to interpretation.

      2. Jacey*

        Yeah, that’s the rub. The OP had a good plan (put the person on a PIP to work out the issues and hopefully retain the employee they saw potential in) and then thwarted themself with the firing. My read is that the firing was impulsive, and OP wishes they could take it back… but giving feedback post firing won’t accomplish what they want.

  9. HiHello*

    LW 1 – some people are very specific about their names. I am one of name. I have a first name and a nickname I go by. I tell everyone to use my nickname, my signature at work has my nickname in it, etc. Sometimes, people will ask me if they can use my first name, but because it is foreign, they cannot pronounce it. So they end up calling me some versions of that name which I DESPISE! And it’s like “didn’t I tell you to use my easy nickname in the first place??”

    1. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I can never understand why people even ask that. When someone requests a particular nickname, why do some people make a point of wanting to *not* use it?

      1. EPLawyer*

        Because people know best what you want to be called. I do NOT use a nickname. At all. Ever. In fact some of the most common nicknames GRATE.

        I introduce myself by my full name. Hi, I’m Katniss. I inevitably get “Do you go by Kat? Or Niss.” Well NEITHER ONE since I used my full freaking name. Even worse are the ones who don’t even ask but just start using a nickname. The ONLY person I let get away with this is the Head Clerk at the Courthouse. Because Head Clerk at the Courthouse.

        1. I edit everything*

          Yeah, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve explained that I use my full name. Yeah, it’s longer than “Jane,” and yeah, there are a lot of nicknames for it. But I don’t like any of them, and I do like my full name. So please use it.

        2. Orange You Glad*

          We have a David that only goes by David but every once in a while my boss will call him Dave and it always throws me off. David has corrected people publicly in the past that Dave is not his name.

  10. Ralkana*

    #1 just reminded me that we have one employee that all employees who’ve been here more than 2 years call by first and last name, and it confuses all the new hires, but it’s because at one time, he was one of 4 men with the same first name, so we full-named them. We still do it out of habit, even though the other 3 have left.

    1. SAS*

      Heh! It’s so strange, I do this with clients sometimes. Using two names just sometimes sticks!

      Sounds like LW’s office didn’t give it enough time. You’d think a few weeks of confusion (still can’t understand how it was so difficult) is worth someone not having to change the name they go by!

    2. Just delurking to say...*

      This reminded me of the coworker who was onboarded under the full-length version of their first name, given an email address using the full-length version, and universally called by the full-length version. One and a half years later a new hire did what no-one else had thought to do – asked whether they used LongVersion or ShortVersion. Turned out they usually go by ShortVersion, but just … hadn’t mentioned it. Too late by then, because LongVersion had stuck and no-one could break the habit.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        At a temp job I had once, a new hire said “You can call me ShortVersion” after a couple of WEEKS, and even then people had trouble breaking the habit (although I wasn’t there long after he started so not sure how long it went on for).

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, I’ve discovered that you have to give people the name you want them to use straight away or it’s too late. At my first job nearly 20 years ago everything was done in my full legal name, because I believed you had to use your full legal name for things like your CV and they’d already set up my email address before I arrived. Of course I introduced myself with the shortened version that I use (I don’t use my full name at all) and had that in my email signature, but because my email address was tangerina.warbleworth people really struggled with calling me Tanny instead. It felt so odd to go to work and have people using a name for me that I haven’t used since I was about 10 years old. Since then I’ve always used my preferred name on my CV and job applications, and while I obviously have to give my legal name for anything official at work, when I start a new job I always ask for my email address and employee info to be set up with the name I actually use.

          1. Chashka*

            The flip side of this is that I have always used my full legal name for business purposes and my nickname for my personal life, mostly because I’ve worked in a conservative industry, but also because there are several ways to spell my nickname. It’s just been easier that way. I do have a very uncommon last name. No problems at all. A couple of years ago, though, a co-worker mentioned that, hmmm, he came across a Facebook post on a friend’s page that had someone with my last name, but a different first name–my nickname. Could that person and me be the same? Ha ha. Yup, small world; he and I have a friend in common, and I explained my business/personal life separation. Cool.

            Adding: I have never been friends on social media with anyone I work with, just because I like work friends to stay in my work friends sphere. Now that both he and I have been laid off from our company, we are now Facebook friends.

          2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Yeah, I’ve discovered that you have to give people the name you want them to use straight away or it’s too late.

            If only!

            I prefer my given name and it’s nothing excessive (8 letters, 2 syllables if you’re fluid on semivowels and 3 syllables if you’re rigid), and it’s only been one ex and my two favorite teachers from school who have used it. I always introduce myself with it, and use it when I refer to myself by name.

            What’s your secret?

            1. londonedit*

              Could be that it’s easier to convince people to use a nickname/shortened version, like I do, than it is to convince them to use your full name. People seem to love giving other people nicknames even if they don’t want them!

      2. Chashka*

        This makes me think of Colin Robinson on WWDITS, always referred to by his full name (maybe one time not?). Maybe there’s a history there, maybe not.

    3. TimeTravlR*

      We did this in our family/friend circle. At one time we had so many Ashley’s we added an identifier. Not their last name but something like “Cousin Ashley,” “Work Ashley,” “Across the Street Ashley,” etc.

      1. Idris the Dragon*

        That sounds like the Welsh system of nicknames, often (but not always) job related. UK posters may remember the animated series ‘Ivor the Engine’ which featured Jones the Steam (driver) and Dai Station (stationmaster). My school had two teachers named David Jones, so one was ‘Jones the History’ and the other ‘Jones the French’. But I’ve heard Dai Big TV/Quiet Wedding/Back Kitchen used as nicknames too.

        1. Pippa K*

          Or for those old enough, “Mick the Dig” from Time Team! (Who – and I don’t know why my brain retains this obscure information – became a dendrologist and was then known as “Mick the Twig”)

    4. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Oh, I just now realized why Charlie Brown was always referred to by his full name – there must have been several Charlies in his town!

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      My ex had a friend who was known as Young Paul. I was never entirely sure why, as he was the only person of that name in that friendship group, and he also wasn’t the youngest of the group. If there ever was an Old Paul, I never met him.

  11. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

    #1 put me in mind of another AAM letter from several years ago. Anybody else remember the guy named King who getting ready to start a new job and was told he wouldn’t be able to go by his actual name that he’s had all his life, because one of his new coworkers said the name was offensive to her religious beliefs? Yes, really! The letter is here:

    And there’s an update here:

    I mention this, because it just underlines how messed up it is to tell someone what name to use at work!

  12. Andy*

    #1 can be really issue only in tiny company. Any company larger then 10 people, will have multiple people of the same name as CEO and half of management. And no one will be confused without nickname or last letter, because everyone will be aware that “Kate” and “John” are not unique names.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      I remember this letter, and I remember assuming that the letter writer must have a fairly uncommon name, such that it’s her first time ever encountering not being the only one with her name somewhere, such that she thought it was a huge problem that needed a huge solution, and not something that every classroom and office has resolved when there are two Christophers or two Taylors.

      We Jennifers don’t even blink at this anymore, and neither do Elizabeths and Williams and Sarahs and Johns. But I hope the two Snicklefritzes in that office have worked it out and are getting along well.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, that was my thought. My first name is uncommon, I have never met anyone else with the same name (although I know *of* others, ) so it would be weird to start with, but I have had lots of situations where I have worked places with more than one person with the same name (I work with around 40 people and we have 1 name shared by three people, 2 each shared by 2. (And another where one person uses a short form of their name which is the same as another name (e.g a Jonathan who goes by Jon, and a John)) Internally people do tend to use first name + initial letter of last name, when it is not obvious from context.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Or two Mrs. Beezlebrots, at my kids’ elementary school.

        Mrs. A Beezlebrot and Mrs. J Beezlebrot. My kid had the first, and when she had to call me about something and identified herself as “Ann Beezlebrot” I sat there thinking “Ann Beezlebrot, Ann, is this someone from gymnastics?” Before finally “Hey, you’re Mrs A Beezlebrot!!!” dawned on me. (Silently, in a rare act of cosmic mercy.)

      3. Cat Tree*

        But surely she has been on the other side of it. She must have had two Andrews in her class and realized that it’s easy to manage.

        Side note, in middle school I literally had three best friends named Jenn. I was the odd one out in my group even though I also have a very common name.

    2. SimplytheBest*

      This reminds me of a time when I used to work at a preschool. I once had to deal with two screaming three year olds who got in a fight over who’s dad was Brad. “My dad is Brad!” “No, *my* dad is Brad!” They could not comprehend that they each had a dad named Brad.

  13. jasmine*

    Re: #1: Employees sharing the same first name: I used to work at a company where there were three people with the same first name and same job title whose offices were in a row next to each other, and all reported to the same person. There were also a few others with the same name in the rest of the company, including one top-level exec. This never caused any confusion – we just used their last names along with their first names in any situation where it wasn’t obvious which one we were talking about.

    1. Lila*

      My wife recently started a job in a small team at a large company. During the hiring process she spoke to the whole team, two Elizabeths and two Jessicas, plus HR (female) and someone from another team (male) both called AJ. The family joked she was going to have to change her name to get the job. We found it even more funny because my mother is called Elizabeth and SiL is Jessica.

      (New name has yet to be chosen)

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Looking at the choice of names here, and thinking back to the SVH books, I’m tempted to suggest Daniella Fromage or Magenta Galaxy….

  14. TimeTravlR*

    I have’t had my morning coffee yet so maybe that’s making me cynical but I’m not really buying the update to the nickname letter. She employee got frustrated quickly and decided to adopt a nickname? IDK but it sounds a little sus to me.

    1. ecnaseener*

      My guess was that people were using identifiers like “New Amanda” or “Not Boss Amanda” that were getting on her nerves.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I could see this: New Amanda, Other Amanda, Fake Amanda. The Good Place had Real Eleanor and Fake Eleanor, and it rapidly got on Fake Eleanor’s nerves.

        Someone observed that the way people are entered in our cell phones often reflects the way last names first evolved. So you have Mike Chicago, Mike Corner Pub, Mike College, Mike With Stacy, Mike Mechanic, etc.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I’m thinking of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, with Josh and White Josh (the joke there was that Josh is Filipino and White Josh looks just like him, but white…).

          And Bob’s Burgers has Regular Size Rudy and Pocket Size Rudy.

          1. Yessica Haircut*

            My favorite part is that even Josh’s serious long-term boyfriend directly addresses him as “White Josh” when they’re alone. Hilarious.

        2. Lore*

          My high school had two teachers who were brothers, and they were frequently referred to as Mr Physics Palma and Mr Math Palma, which somehow evolved into Palma Comma Math and Palma Comma Physics (with the word “comma” said out loud).

          1. Purple Cat*

            I went to a Catholic high school, so lots of “Sister Mary xxx” teachers. We tended to refer to them as “Sister Mary English” and “Sister Mary Math”

        3. TimeTravlR*

          You are so right! I have Chuck Plumber and Kelly Furnace in my contacts, as well as other similar names!

      2. Kippy*

        Yeah, we had a situation like this. “Not Boss Amanda, the Other Amanda” became Mandy rather quickly.

        We tried not to add the qualifiers but when we were rushing to get things done it was the easiest way to handle things.

      3. Cat Tree*

        I joined an existing friend group as an adult and I’m still sometimes the other Amanda. Once in a group text someone specified that Amanda Smith would be making pierogies for the group, like if they didn’t specify I would just assume that I’m now on the hook to make them.

        1. Siege*

          A comedian I follow recently got a new phone, and the church group of the former phone owner has not processed the change. He tried telling them he wasn’t (let’s say Susan, I don’t remember) and they ignored that information enough times that he just started to agree to everything they asked him to do, like make X for the church potluck and handle the kids’ carpool on Thursday and meet everyone for bowling. The part that makes it hilarious is that they STILL are sending these requests, so either:
          A) Susan promises to do everything and never follows through anyway, so no one expects her to follow through now;
          B) These people are nice church ladies but not good church ladies so they just gossip behind their backs about how Susan isn’t doing what she’s said she’d do but they genuinely believe she will do it;
          C) Susan is still on the text group with her new phone number, so everyone is just totally ignoring the comedian’s contributions and Susan is doing whatever, with fake!Susan not contributing (problematic in the case of the carpool)
          D) Susan is just doing everything the comedian says she’ll do because she can’t get people to change her number.

          It’s kind of hilarious, because it’s not my problem!

    2. Deborah*

      I’m still the most fond of the story going around on the internet where a woman with a dog named Bob got a boyfriend named Bob, so they called him Human Bob, but dog Bob was just Bob.

  15. I'm just here for the cats!*

    So I was confused about the problem with #1 and the multiple names. I work in a small department and we had 3 people with the same/.similar names. Before I started there were like 5 people with the same name or similar sounding names/Nick names (think Andrew, Andy Andrea, Andria, Andi, Drea). We have a lot of contact with other people in other departments and even off campus. It’s not really a problem. If someone calls asking for person Andi we ask are you wanting Andi last name or other last name. Of they don’t know we just ask what they are looking for and you can figure it out.
    I read the update and I’m even more confused because The new Amanda quit using her given name and started using a nick name after only 3 weeks because she was frustrated by the confusion. If that’s true she didn’t give people much time to adjust especially if it was mostly volunteers who might not be working with her every day.

    1. anonymous73*

      Pure speculation, but it wouldn’t surprise me if OP hinted around about a nickname once New Amanda started so she would get what she wanted, because in the original letter, she wanted to make sure everyone knew that SHE was in charge. Then in the update made it seem like it was all on New Amanda’s frustration for the name change.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep I would also guess New Amanda was nudged towards taking a nickname, either at the beginning or once the confusion started.

    2. Siege*

      I like that you’re assuming that people know OP Amanda’s last name. I’ve worked with volunteers (and students). That conversation went like this:

      “Where’s Amanda? I need (vague thing that could be either).”
      “Which Amanda? There are two now.”
      *eye lasers* “AMANDA Amanda.”
      “Yes, but which one?”
      “Do you want Amanda in volunteer services, or Amanda in membership services?”
      “I just want Amanda! How hard is this?”

      Ultimately this is followed by muttering off saying “well, how was I supposed to know her last name/job role/shoe size/status as a human being?” I have had both volunteers and students who didn’t actually know my first name, let alone my last name, which is always weird, since I literally give them papers with my name on, introduce myself very specifically, and make a point of learning theirs. But by week 8, it feels weird to keep saying “Hi everyone, I’m Siege and this is Intro To Underwater Basket-Weaving!”

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I see what your saying and I’ve had those issues before too. There may be a few people like that but being that op is the boss (or at least higher than the new Amanda) I think it would be fairly easy to figure out which Amanda was which.

  16. Delta Delta*

    I worked with a horrible bully who had a slightly uncommon name. We hired a person with the same name, although the second person pronounced it slightly differently. Horrible Bully engaged in a year-long campaign of systemic undermining and flat-out bullying until finally the new person quit without a new job lined up. Horrible Bully basically bragged about that for a couple years after. I quit (because it was a bad place) and have run into the new person a few times. she physically shudders – even now, about 10 years later – every time she mentions Horrible Bully or that work experience.

  17. Christmas Carol*

    When I was in high school, my class had two boys with an identical common first AND last name pair, think John Johnson. Everyone, staff, teachers, and fellow students just always referred to them as Big John Johnson and Little John Johnson. Both of them were apt to get into trouble occasionally, but were known to use the name issue to their advantage when necessary. Famous high school memory is over hearing the vice principal screaming in frustration, “No, I wanted the little one” One of the boys is Native American, and now goes by Wild Deer as an adult.

    1. BubbleTea*

      My history class had two Laura Smiths (not the real names but comparable frequency). It was confusing and they once got each other’s exam grades back. We went with Laura 1st and Laura 2nd since one transferred in a couple of years later, but some people rather unkindly preferred Laura Big [height hand gesture] and Laura Big [width hand gesture].

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      At my company the email exchange puts a number behind your name to indicate how many there are. The number 20 is behind my name. I do occasionally get misdirected emails – all but one I have just ignored (because they were of the “cake in break room” variety).

      For the record, I have the second most popular girl’s name from the year I was born – the only time I got upset was when a band teacher insisted on trying to force me to respond to a derivation of my maiden name. Being honest – 17 year old me wasn’t the most mature in how I handled the whole thing.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        I have an incredibly uncommon name (let’s pretend it’s Ghoti Ixohoxi) and once worked for a large firm that did this. I left that job but came back several years later. Somehow IT knew I had the original email in the past but couldn’t reassign it back to me. So they created Ghoti.Ixohoxi2@ for me. Because my name is so uncommon people would occasionally ask, “Are there really TWO KGhoti Ixohoxi’s???)

    3. Nom*

      At the work of a friend of mine, they had two Steves start on the first day. Both Steves were over 6 feet tall but one was like 6’9″ so they called them Short Steve and Tall Steve. People that only met Short Steve must have been very confused.

    4. Very Social*

      My bachelorette party combined two friend groups, each of which had a “Jane.” There was some discussion over how to differentiate–both are the same age, similar height and hair color, etc. Jane 1 and Jane 2 was suggested, but people argued over who should be which.

      Then someone suggested Good Jane and Evil Jane. No more confusion; we didn’t even have to decide which was which. They were Good Jane and Evil Jane the rest of the day.

  18. JohannaCabal*

    #1 made me think of something I learned recently. Apparently, the maid that worked for the Borden family (of Lizzie Borden fame) was called Bridget because their previous maid was named Bridget and Lizzie’s stepmother didn’t want to have to learn another name.

    1. londonedit*

      I think that was fairly standard practice in British upper-class homes in decades gone by – the butler would always be Williams or whatever because a previous/the family’s first butler was Williams and no one could be bothered to learn a different name every time there was a new butler.

    2. Threeve*

      Science fiction writer H. G. Wells renamed his WIFE, supposedly because he just liked the name Jane.

    3. Malarkey01*

      It was really common in a lot of servant situations for all the maids/footmen/kitchen maids to be called the same name (and Bridget was really common for Irish maids and John for footmen). That way the family wasn’t bothered to learn all the servants’ individual names.

  19. Jam Today*

    LW #1 is so bizarre to me, my name is common as dirt in my ethno-religious cohort. I am one of four cousins with my (our) name and at a previous company when I changed roles one of my new peers had the same name, I was replaced by someone with the same name, and then another person with the same name was hired alongside her. Somehow we all managed to retain our unique identities and only occasionally received a misdirected email.

    (Also, I am of the generation were Chris and Jennifer were the most popular baby names, and by the time I graduated college I knew 23 guys named Chris.)

  20. 867-5309*

    My first name is Jennifer and I have one of the most common surnames in the U.S. At more than one company there have been several people with my same first and last name and we managed just fine.


    I would love an update to the last letter!

    1. OyHiOh*

      In one of my hobby groups, there are no less than six Jennifers, all between the ages of 40 and 60. They all have preferred nicknames/shortened versions of the name but frankly, when speaking the difference between Jenni and Jenny causes the occasional laughable flub.

    2. I edit everything*

      We had three Jennifer Smiths in my grade in my middle school. And it was in a fairly rural area, so not that big a school. They went by middle initial.

  21. Kelly*

    #4: It’d depend on WHY they were using an alias. If it’s a case like a transgender person using the name that aligns with their identity/presentation if they haven’t legally changed it yet (to avoid outing themselves at the point of first impression), or someone with a strongly ethnic name trying to avoid discrimination, from research I’ve done that may actually be defensible (as long as you do provide your legal name when it comes time for the employer to need to know it).

    1. River Otter*

      Even if either of those were the case, they were still rejected from that job already. Rejection after 3 interviews while the job is still open means the company really is not interested. They can change their name, but they are still the same person, and reapplying to the same job will not change the outcome.

      1. Kelly*

        I was aware of the specs in this particular case – my point was more along the lines that if an employer had a general rule that not using your legal name was considered grounds for rejection, they may have to make an exception when the use of a different name was done to prevent the disclosure of protected-class info that the legal name conveys (as long as the applicant did make the employer aware of their legal name by when it would be material).

        1. Kelly*

          I forgot to mention that I do agree with Alison in this individual case (since as River Otter said there is obviously not a discrimination issue here).

    2. londonedit*

      I don’t think there’s an issue in general with using an alias or a name that’s not your legal name when applying for jobs. The specific issue with LW4 is that they’d already been through the interview process and had been rejected – and then they applied again using an alias. That’s what makes it seem like they’re trying to trick the employer into interviewing them again even though they’d already been rejected for the job.

  22. IT Heathen*

    #4: I wonder if LW used a totally made up alias or just a twist on their own name. Did they apply first as Mary Anne Spier and then the second time as M.A. Spier?

  23. bee*

    Just to stick up for LW 1 a little: I work with someone that has a slightly different spelling of my name (think Bee/Bea) and it has not been as easy as I assumed it would be. Part of the issue is that our IT will NOT let our emails be anything other than our full legal name, and while I’ve gone by Bee my whole life, it’s actually my middle name — say I’m Sansa Bee Stark, but everyone calls me Bee. So to get to me you have to email sansa.stark@email, but if you’re on autopilot and just type “be” and let the rest fill in, you’ll get Other Bea.
    Other Bea also either does not notice or care about this, and won’t forward things along to me, so I’ll sometimes get “Hey, haven’t heard from you about this!” about things I’ve never seen or get something hastily forwarded to me, and I’m sure there’s other stuff I’ve missed that I don’t even know about.
    So, yes, if I could change anything about this situation, I totally would!

    1. Sleepless*

      I had the same last name and first initial as a classmate (and good friend) in a smallish, close-knit graduate program. People who should have known better would always call us by the wrong name, leave notes in the wrong boxes, etc. The longer it went on, the more it annoyed me. Eventually you would think people would learn your FIRST NAME! We looked completely dissimilar to each other, too, basically as different as two people of the same gender and race possibly could.

    2. Fawn*

      Yeah I’m sort of baffled that so many people are saying how often they’ve had to deal with this situation without acknowledging that it’s kind of a pain. As someone with a common name, yeah I’ve taken on nicknames increasingly disconnected from my actual name just for the option.

      1. Siege*

        Yep. My name is a variant spelling, and at one job I got the common spelling as a forward to my actual email, people spelled it wrong so much (and we did use full first names in our emails).

      2. Elsajeni*

        I suspect there’s kind of a middle zone — for people with VERY common names (Jennifer, Mike), it’s so common for there to be more than one of them that most people will anticipate it and double-check that they have the right email, clarify which Mike they mean without being asked, etc. I’m named Elizabeth, I go by Liz, I have very rarely been in a classroom or office where there wasn’t at least one other Liz/Elizabeth — but for the most part it hasn’t caused problems, because all the other Lizzes know the drill, and most other people have been in enough dual-Liz environments that they get the hang of going “Liz — I mean Payroll Liz” very quickly. I think it’s names in the “not so rare you never meet another one, but not so common you ALWAYS meet another one” zone that tend to have more problems, because people unthinkingly assume that there’s only one Vanessa (or whatever), so the one their email autofilled must be the right one, and so on.

    3. anonymous73*

      Yes it can be a pain to deal with, but asking someone else to modify their name to avoid the confusion is NOT okay.

    4. Rara Avis*

      My employer used Firstnamelastinitial for email addresses. I was not the first raraa, so I became raraav. But the first one didn’t have a client-facing job, so no one knew I wasn’t raraa, and she got a lot of my email. (Even HR set me up with the wrong username once.)

  24. Anonymous Hippo*

    Granted, I never have the issue of having the same name because mine is very unusual, but it is far from uncommon for people in the same office to have the same name. IDK if it’s the region I’m in, but my previous job literally 50% of the management team was named Dave/David, and at my current job there are at least 5. I call them by their last name when I need to be specific, and if I’m talking directly to them they know which one I mean lol.

  25. Metadata minion*

    When I started, there were four people at my workplace with my name. One bright side to the inevitable confusion is that I once got to have a brief conversation with an extremely exciting VIP because she thought I was the [NAME] she was supposed to be talking to. ;-)

    1. dresscode*

      The place I last worked had 55 people. We had, no joke, EIGHT Daves. 15% of our workforce was named Dave. It was nuts.

  26. HB*

    People who are confused about Letter 1. From the letter:

    “but we utilize over 300 volunteers, most of whom are 60”

    *Three hundred* volunteers. Volunteers who are not going to be part of the same processes and updates as the rest of the staff, may only come in sporadically and therefore will not know that there are now two Amandas. Volunteers who may work on any number of projects at different times with different people making it less likely that context clues will be at all helpful.

    1. pancakes*

      It still doesn’t seem like a huge problem to me. Many of us have attended a school or worked for an employer with more than 300 people at some point, and multiple people having the same first name is so common. As other commenters have noted, those of us who were kids in the 1980s very likely went to school with at least three or four Jennifers. Being 60 years old isn’t synonymous with being senile.

    2. anonymous73*

      And? There are solutions other than asking someone to change their name. You sit down with them, explain the situation, and come up with a solution TOGETHER. I wouldn’t want to change my name – I do have nicknames from close friends, but none of which I’d want to use professionally, and I’d think it was pretty rude and ballsy if my manager’s first ask when I started a new job was to consider going by a different name.

    3. Purple Cat*

      I don’t know the LW was very hung up on making sure that everyone was clear that they were “in charge” but yet New Person was the one that needed to adopt a knickname. How about BOTH employees start going by first AND last name to avoid confusion. That seems like a much better solution….

    4. Siege*

      Yeah. I don’t think you can really preemptively ask someone to use a different name, but people acting like it’s a hanging offense to anticipate a problem with a volunteer body who are used to just one Amanda are people who apparently have no experience with volunteers. What if they work one shift a week? Or a month? It’s not the same as being in-office 40 hours a week, and OP doesn’t need to be the villainous progenitor of the harassment that caused New Amanda to go by a nickname. Three weeks of volunteers arguing with her about who she is would be about two more weeks than I could handle.

      1. SimplytheBest*

        You preempt that by reaching out to the volunteers and saying “we hired someone with my same name, so when you need to reach me, make sure you’re asking for FirstName LastName.” Not asking a new hire to change their name.

        I work with 900+ congregant families at my job. We have so many same, similar, and rhyming names here in the office. Everyone figures it out.

  27. Bernice Clifton*

    “We had something of an exit interview (over the phone – again, not the way I would have preferred to do this), and discussed why she was being fired. She wasn’t rude but it was pretty clear that she wasn’t hearing what I had to say”

    I feel like this LW’s expectations were too high for this conversation.

    First of all, this wasn’t an “interview”, exit or otherwise. This was the LW informing the employee, “Hey, you don’t work here anymore because you keep doing A, B, and C and I can’t keep you on anymore”, probably followed by some logistics about ending the business relationship.

    Those are the only things the person being fired needs to “get”. They don’t have agree with the decision or acknowledge your feelings, especially when they first get the news.

    1. Rayray*

      I agree. I think it’s fine to offer an explanation if necessary but truthfully when you’re getting the news you’re fired or laid off, your mind is more focused on “What am I going to do??”. All you’re thinking in that moment is no more income. Feedback goes in one panicked ear and out the other.

  28. GreyjoyGardens*

    In one place I worked, there were literally three Michael Commonlastnames (think Michael Johnson). We solved that by referring to them as “Accounting Michael, “Sales Michael,” and “IT Department Michael.” (With last name added if necessary because my oh my but “Michael” or “Mike” is a very common name across the board.)

    Even if there’s only two people with the same first name and different last name, I think it’s common courtesy to distinguish between their departments. That way, Sam Spade in Accounting doesn’t get inundated with stuff meant for Sam Tarly in HR and vice versa, and clients and vendors get directed to speak to the right Sam. (I was in another work place where the HR lady and the tech writer had the same last name and almost the same first name – and boy howdy did the tech writer hate having temp workers report to her or whatever the HR person did as she was a prickly, misanthropic such and so; probably no coincidence she left soon after and did only freelance work).

  29. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I don’t see a lot of commentary on #2 but I want to call out how much I love the phrase “that would be a punishment for me not a reward”

    1. Really?*

      I am trying to imagine a scenario where I could say that to my boss and experience a positive result. Coming up empty so far.

      1. unpleased*

        Yeah, it’s a terrible idea. The only possible way it could work is if you are already known for your bubbly aplomb and could say it lightly–and your boss knows you hate working out or something because you joke about it already. Just offer to be a spectator or one of the other options Alison offered. The temptation to take petty swipes really isn’t worth the outcome. It’s a small world.

  30. Hawk*

    Related to OP4: Did anyone see the thread on Twitter (I think) of the guy who interviewed for the same workplace he had been fired from while wearing different fake mustaches on his mask? He was found out and kicked out, obviously.

    1. Rayray*

      Haha yeah. Absolutely hilarious. Goes to show how clueless some recruiters are and that many companies are not doing their due diligence in selecting candidates.

  31. Renee*

    I had never met anyone with my name until I started working for the government! I guess its where we all landed. I have another Renee in my office of 20 people. But seriously, we get called by our last names. We address emails to each other by last name. Sometimes I sign my inneroffice emails as Other Renee. Its fun and no one is confused :)

    Although I will say one time I kept getting emails with inmate information (not my department). Turns out someone went by my first and last name socially, but her email name was different. Renee was probably her middle name. But I was the only Renee. XXXX in the Outlook contacts. That was interesting!

  32. Allie*

    OP #1, on our team of 8 people, we have Kate B., Kate D., and Katie. Sure, sometimes it gets confusing, But 5 seconds of clarification about who you are talking to/about is worth it so that people can go by their preferred names.

  33. Sally O'Malley*

    I teach high school, and several years ago we had three students in the same grade with the same name. It was very common and gender-neutral (think Lynn Jones). One was a girl, the other two boys. The two boys also had the exact same middle name as well. We had to distinguish them with the last 4 of their social.

  34. Laura*

    I can relate to the last one, about reapplying for a job that you’d been rejected for. Something similar happened to me, I’d made it to the final two candidates for a company that I thought would be a great fit for me personally, as well as my career goals. Ultimately they went with the other candidate, but had given me great feedback. I’d eventually found something else, only to be looking for a job again two years later. I had checked their site, and found the position I’d originally applied for was open again. I went through the process and was offered the job the second time around, and I’ve now been with the company for three years. I do hope the reason for the Alias is something that is easily explainable.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Two years? That’s an entirely different situation. You didn’t re-apply during the same search.

      1. Laura*

        yeah not at all, it just reminded me. And made me wonder if it’s not that common to reapply? If that makes sense.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed two years is applying during a whole new search. This is going and using an alias during the SAME search to try and get some weird edge? I guess.

        1. Laura*

          I would love an update on this. I think someone above mentioned the alias could be something as simple as initials. And I’m hoping it was that simple, otherwise I cannot understand the reasoning. But I did think the post mentioned it was for a role in a different department, or did I misunderstand that. So I would think that would be a new search as well. But I would think it would be something that you’d want to clear up at the time the phone interview was scheduled, and not after.

  35. Abated*

    For letter number one, another solution would have been that they both go by nicknames. For two Amanda’s, I nominate MCA and AmRock. Missed opportunity, what a shame.

  36. Rayray*

    To be fair, I don’t really blame #4. I understand that many jobs I applied to I wasn’t a great fit for it, but other times I absolutely matched what the job description said. When you’re in a job you hate or are unemployed, you get desperate sometimes. It absolutely does fee personal sometimes. There’s an employer in my state that I really wanted to work for and I’m pretty sure they might be in the top 10 largest employers in the state so lots of jobs available. I’d applied many times and always got rejected almost immediately so I thought it was something personal and they just zapped my application when my name came up. As I’m a little more mature and wiser about hiring practices now, I realize that wasn’t actually the case but at the time I definitely thought so and was very tempted to try this. I go by my middle name usually and apply to jobs with it, but it would be easy to apply with my legal first name, a different email address, and a Google voice phone # and see what happened.

    And to the point others have brought up, some people absolutely do get rejected on their name alone. I’ve literally seen things where recruiters admit they assume someone is uneducated based on their name when it’s a traditionally black name. I also know it’s common for Asian people to adopt a “white” name for job applications and such.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think you are missing the part where LW4 was rejected after an interview.

      They didn’t have a problem with the name or anything on the original application. They had a problem with the person. Even if it were discrimination, it wasn’t name discrimination.

      It certainly was personal, and LW has every right to be upset. But the situation is so bizarre that’s it’s difficult to imagine what they were trying to accomplish.

  37. Jared "Donald" Dunn*

    Names stick. My name’s only Jared because Gavin called me that on my first day. My real name is Donald.

  38. Managing to Get By*

    I wish I could use “that would be a punishment rather than a reward” to get out of the Spirit Week activites my company is doing this week…

    1. Rayray*

      Spirit week at work sounds terrible. I was just thinking how much I dread holiday festivities in the office but fortunately I got out of doing team stockings. They wanted everyone to put out stockings and being stuff to fill it which would be fun with family or friends but not coworkers!

  39. monogodo*

    #1: I work for a school district in the printing department. Our email addresses are If there’s already someone with that first initial/last name, they add the second letter, etc., until they get uniques. When I was hired, there was already both a dbxxxx and a dabxxxx, so I got danbxxxx (which is awesome, as that’s what I go by IRL). The thing is, dabxxxx is an Assistant Superintendent. I kept getting emails requesting my signature to approve PO’s for facilities upgrades at various athletic fields in the district. I knew that they weren’t meant for *me*, so I’d reply to the sender, and to dabxxxx, letting them know that I thought they had misaddressed it. They’d always apologize and say they didn’t know how I was getting them. I figured it out. They were typing “da” in their Outlook To field, and it would autopopulate the list alphabetically. Since “Daniel” (my full first name) comes before “David” (the Assistant Superintendent’s first name), they’d select it, because for years, his was the first result. Now that it’s the second result, they have to pay attention.

    #3: Years ago I had a coworker who was at another location. He joined our managers/coworkers in a causal basketball game one weekend (off the clock). While playing, he blew out his knee, requiring surgery and an extended convalescence, which meant going on long term disability. While he was out on disability, they laid him off, due to reduced work load. It seemed to me like a shitty thing of them to do.

  40. Ralph the Wonder Llamas*

    Re No. 4: Yes, I’m Raymond Luxury Yacht (pronounced ‘Throatwobbler Mangrove’). I fear I applied in both iterations.

    My user name has never been more appropriate.

  41. Meghan*

    I’m a Meghan who had worked with many Johns and Thomases. It’s not as big a deal as OP1 is trying to make it. Refer to them as the name they give you, and if they want to make a nickname they will. If not, it’s really not as confusing as OP1 thinks. People will know, especially if you refer to them as Meghan M vs Meghan G. It’s fine.

    1. RagingADHD*

      LW4 may have sent an update, but claimed to be someone else. So we’ll never find the connection.

  42. Tirv*

    Years ago on my first day as a salesperson at a company, one of the other salespeople came up to me and TOLD me that I needed to change my name because it was her name and having two ” Jessicas” would confuse customers. I told her that I would not be changing my name and if her customers couldn’t figure out the difference between us, she had bigger problems. On the sales board we were listed as Jessica H ( her) and Jessica M. ( me) A year later, she got remarried and her last name now started with an M. Once again, she told me I needed to change how I was listed because she was now Jessica M. Lol. I was changed to Jessica Mc on the board.

  43. Can’tAdultToday*

    #1: a close family member was hired at a large company in a mid level position. Say his name was John. He was told, “we already have a John, Jon, Johnny, and a Jonathan. We can’t have another John. What’s your middle name?”

    It’s John. “OK, what’s your first name?” Sebastian. “All right, everyone meet our newest member, Sebastian!!”

    He HATES his first name, and NEVER uses it anywhere else. He’s Johnny in the rest of his life, and Sebastian at work. Ridiculous.

  44. TheIntern*

    I had a similar experience t0 #1 that was super uncomfortable. I was an intern who shared a relatively uncommon name with a (non-intern) colleague and she was clearly bothered by it. She made a huge point to refer to me as “the intern”. Each desk had a sign with the person’s name on it, and she actually took a sharpie and edited my sign so that instead of “Arya Stark” it said “Arya Stark (the intern) (not Arya Doe)”. The whole thing was so weird! I think those of us with slightly offbeat names can be weird about sharing them, but if the Sarahs and Dans of the world can handle it, so can we!

  45. HeavensToBetsy*

    #2. I am so glad to hear that your office has been supportive of your decision not to partake in the basketball game in addition to your uninterest in sports in general especially as your workplace is in an athletically oriented field. Fantastic of them! I hope you enjoy working there!!

  46. Just Me*

    OP1 – I once worked in an office with three Jennifers. One went by Jennifer, another went by Jenni, and one went by Jen. It was fine, but we would joke-but-not-really-joke that we would never hire another Jennifer.

    Incidentally, this workplace also had two Susans, and they had to duke it out for who would get to go by Sue.

  47. Pyjamas*

    Re: OP1, so many commentators are saying this is a non-problem. Agreed, in most workplaces, employees sharing first names is no big deal. But in this case, there was a problem, because:

    – OP1 is a manager making day to day decisions
    – with a paid staff of ~10 employees, but
    – the majority of the workers (~300) being volunteers (think herding cats)
    – These volunteers are 60 years or older, and while they may have a harder time with changes in routine, they ARE the ones who choosing to volunteer their time
    – Not everyone knows OP1 by sight—she doesn’t have day to day interactions with the volunteers—but they all know someone called “Amanda” is in charge
    – Both OP and the new hire are out and about, interacting with volunteers…
    …who are per update refusing to add an initial to new hire’s first name…
    …which is something OP1 can’t really control bc they are VOLUNTEERS

    So sure, maybe OP coerced “Amanda C” —who OP1 could have simply not hired if she had a fetish about her name—to take a nickname. Even though OP1 was uneasy enough about asking that she wrote for advice and by her account, took the advice. But maybe, just maybe, “Amanda C” got so tired of having volunteers come up to her with day to day problems that she decided on her own to take a nickname. Her choice. I go with the latter.

    1. Jacey*

      This is a really thorough and thoughtful laying out of how things might have gone. I’ll admit to having been somewhat incredulous that it was a problem for adults to have the same name, but I think I skimmed over how MANY volunteers there were.

  48. Pipe Organ Guy*

    I read an article in The Washington Post today about the problems that Amazon’s Alexa is causing for people named Alexa. Some of these devices can use another wake-up word, but not all. It’s leading to irrational demands that people named Alexa use another name, and there are far, far too many examples of people named Alexa being given all kinds of commands, as though they are Amazon’s device. Not cool.

  49. Worker bee*

    Per #1: Gosh, I didn’t realize that most of the volunteers were over 60. That makes a difference, since the LW was clearly only sending letters or telegrams to these aged members of society. /s

    People over 60 aren’t half blind, tethered to a walker, and unsure if it’s their kids they are interacting with, for pete’s sake. Someone who is 60 was born in 1961, not 1941. I’d say a third of the senior staff at my company are over 60 and another third are within 5 years.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been so annoyed by a letter here. You want a new employee to change her name so it’s different than yours, because you think your 60+ year old volunteers are too addlebrained or stupid to understand that there is a new employee that shares your name. I mean, because of your position, you are too busy to interact with most of the volunteers, but it’s imperative that the community know that YOU are IN CHARGE. And not that pseudo Amanda imposter, who is just trying to do the job she was hired to do.

    1. tommy*

      i mean, being “half blind” doesn’t mean being oblivious, and nobody is “tethered to a walker,” though some people do USE walkers. ableism and ageism go hand in hand; we might as well work to eradicate both of them at the same time.

Comments are closed.