It seems a small thing, but people are constantly misspelling my name. I think it is an unusually easy name to spell, but I’ve also had decades of experience spelling it out. It goes like this: J-A-M-I-E.
I get all sorts of variants. Most common is J-A-I-M-E. After that I get J-A-I-M-I-E. It is almost as if people are hesitant about where the I goes so they cover their bets and put it everywhere. I’m used to this of course. For a time I corrected people, but it happens so often that I’ve stopped correcting them. It’s too much of a strain on my time.
It is one thing if you are guessing at the spelling, but 99% of the spelling errors I see are in reply to a message I have written. This message normally takes the form of email and since my name is on both the FROM line of the message and the signature of the message, it is right there for the person to see how to spell it. And yet 9 out of 10 times it still comes back wrong. My grand-boss is guilty of regularly misspelling my name. My great-great-great grandboss always spells it correctly. Go figure.
My last name is often misspelled as well: R-U-B-E-N instead of R-U-B-I-N, but that doesn’t happen nearly as often as my misspelled first name.
When giving my name for some official purpose, like arriving at Safeway for my COVID vaccine, I spell it out so that there is no confusion. Even then, I’ve encountered problems. “I’m sorry, I don’t seem to see you listed. Can you spell your name again?” Usually, I just say, “You’ve put the I in the wrong place,” but no one likes being corrected, so now I just spell it again.
My name has caused problems of a different nature as well. It is an epicene name, one that can be found in use across the spectrum of genders. In college, when I wrote a fan letter to Piers Anthony, he replied, “Dear Ms. Jamie (I am assuming you are female).” It was then that I began adding my middle name, Todd, to my byline.
I occasionally get mail for Ms. Jamie Rubin. I generally mark it “RTS” — no such person lives here.
I like that my name is short. It made it easy to fill out those bubbles on the standardized tests I took in high school. I just wish people would learn to spell it correctly.
I suppose I might misspell it myself if I ever actually had to write it. The truth is I rarely type my name these days; I have shortcuts that type it for me. This ensures I never make a mistake. Maybe what we need is some kind of shareable shortcut that we can send to people to make it easier to spell such a difficult name as Jamie.
Isaac Asimov had problems with his name. People were always spelling his last name with a Z instead of an S. He got so frustrated by this that he finally wrote a story about it, “Spell My Name with an S”, which appeared in the January 1958 issue of Star Science Fiction (under the title “S as In Zebatinsky.”)
I’ve thought about getting a business card that has step-by-step instructions for spelling my name on the back. I’ve thought about adding step-by-step instructions to my .sig file so that it is right there in the email message. Maybe what I’ll do, now that I have this post written, is simply add a link to it from my email signature. I could even create a QR code for it.
Maybe I’ll just create a QR code for my name instead. When people ask for my name, I’ll give them the QR code. Try spelling that you dirty rat!