This morning while I was walking into my office building, I happened to glance up and make eye contact with a man just in front of me. He was walking into the building as well. He took a cursory look at me, and then looked more intently and said, “Hey, how are you doin’!” At first I wasn’t sure if he was even talking to me, because while he did look familiar (and I’m assuming that simply because we work in the same building), I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him.
He continued along a script of small, long-time no-see talk. His face was away from me, so for a moment, I wondered whether he was talking into a cell phone ear piece, but no, he was still talking to me. I squeaked out a “good” in response to his question, but was mostly quiet and unresponsive. I followed him the stairs with my head ducked and escaped as quickly as I could into my suite of offices.
Looking back at it, I wish I had just gone along, responded as if I knew him as well, but in the moment, I felt crippled and cowed by equal parts awkwardness (for me) and embarrassment (for him). I realize that’s a little silly, but I couldn’t shake it. I wonder how he felt afterwards and if he ever realized that I wasn’t the person he thought I was.
What do you do when someone mis-takes you for someone else?
smile. be nice. hopefully if he sees you again, he’ll realize he made a mistake (they always do) and if he acknowledges that to you, say you knew that, but you wanted to be nice. never know, you just might have made a new friend. for what that’s worth!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if strangers were always so concerned and polite? And wouldn’t it be nice if everyone responded in kind?
There’s a boss in another department at work who has been calling me “Ray” for years, asking me how I’m doing. I corrected him a few times, but now I just play along. Not sure why.
Agree with EdVS. I play along, because hey, 1) I might have actually forgotten (oops!), or 2) I might actually make a new long-time friend, __you never know__. If they’re that brave and willing to extend themselves, I figure they deserve a little “pay it forward.” Except, paying it backward, instead…