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It's Travis' Turn: What's in a name?

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

Our turn
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The confusion began when I received the emails. There were two of them. The first confirmed my purchase of a round of golf for two at some resort in Nevada. The second confirmed my tee-time.

Or, at least, that's how it appeared.

It was either a mistake or a scam, obviously. One, I'm not in Nevada and have no plans to go, and two, I have nothing to do with golf unless the word "miniature" is involved.

The reason I was concerned was the name on the reservation. It was actually a pair of initials, but they were my initials and my last name, which made me think that perhaps somebody had stolen my identity.

All my life people have gotten my name wrong. To be specific, my last name.

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It gets mispronounced (it rhymes with "Charles Bronson"), it gets misspelled (they leave out the "d" or put an "e" where the "o" should be).

For the first time I live in a county where there are people with a name very similar to mine, although again, they spell and pronounce it differently than I do.

Now I had a pair of emails that appeared to be addressed to me and showed that some kind of financial transaction – which I had not approved – had taken place.

The one consolation I had was the fact that the card listed in the receipt did not belong to me. A look at my bank statement also revealed that I had not been charged for this golf outing.

My worry was that somebody had used my name to get a credit card, although I didn't know how they ever could have – my credit is terrible.

So I called the golf club, and spoke to a woman named Marcia.

"This is a weird one," she said, doing nothing to allay my concerns.

Sadly, Marcia was unable to be of much assistance at this point in the story, given that she only had access to the information I was able to provide, and this other person had not yet shown up to play his round of golf. The one thing she could tell me was that the telephone number the person listed had a Wyoming area code.

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Marcia disconnected after promising me that someone would call back once more information was available.

In the meantime, I began doing Google searches of the name and Wyoming. I also started to wonder if this is what the beginnings of financial ruin might look like.

Fortunately, I was able to find references to this other T. Gulbrandson, including one that mentioned he played golf.

After about an hour, Marcia called back to tell me it was all a misunderstanding. The other T. Gulbrandson missed typing one letter in his email address, which turned it into my email address. There was no identity theft or fraud taking place after all.

As I wrap up this column, I have a couple of thoughts. The first is that although some people might have trouble pronouncing or spelling your name, that does not make it unique. In a world populated with billions of people, you most likely share that name with dozens of others. You just never run into one another, most of the time.

The other is a message for the other T. Gulbrandson.

Learn to type. You almost gave me a heart attack.

Opinion by Travis Gulbrandson
Travis Gulbrandson covers several beats, including Osakis School Board and Osakis City Council, along with the Brandon-Evansville School Board. His focus will also be on crime and court news.
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