Standing in the car dealership, we chatted with the salesman and another couple we met while waiting for another transaction to be finished. A well dressed man, in a suit and tie, came out of the cubicle at the end of the room, where he had been doing business with another salesman. Seeing the four of us, he deliberately made his way our direction. Sensing he was looking at me, I rapidly scanned my mental files to identify the man. Deciding he was just a businessman someone else in the group knew, I eased my search, but clearly felt his eyes penetrating my being!
Walking up to us, he embraced me, kissed me on the cheek and said, “How are you? How long has it been?”
Noticing my confused look, added, “You don’t remember me, do you?”
Looking at my husband with a plea of help, said, “No, I don’t think I do.”
“Down at Rehoboth. We had dinner and danced.”
Now clearly certain he was mistaken, I said, “No. I’ve never been there. You have me mistaken for someone else.”
“Well, aren’t you, Rachel?”
“No,” I said, “I’m Margie.”
Stepping back from me, he adjusted his tie as his face reddened. “I am so sorry. You look so much like Rachel, I was sure you were her.”
“No problem,” I said, suddenly feeling very sorry for the man. Turning, he exited the building as everyone around me wondered what to say next.
While this situation was an awkward case of mistaken identity, I couldn’t help but think of it while attending a funeral not long ago when my cousin said, “It’s funny how you forget names of people you haven’t seen in many years.”
It is possible, obviously when attending a wedding or funeral you are going to encounter someone who isn’t family and while they look familiar, you can’t quite identify them. There are times when even attending a family reunion, you can’t make the right connection with family…. or you exchange one person for another. Thankfully there is family resemblance that is sometimes helpful for identification. One reunion I attended years ago, after my mother passed away, relatives on her side of the family, which I’d never seen, walked up to me and said, “You have to be Ada’s daughter!" I, until that moment, didn’t realize how much I looked like my mother! I had to respond with, “Okay, so I know we are related, but I need you to tell me how."
While my story at the dealership is funny, there are times when mistaken identity becomes a harsh reality as in the incident in 2006 after two young women were in a horrific automobile accident. One woman dies and the other stays in a coma for a month. As the young woman begins to get better, it is discovered the family staying by her side, isn’t her family at all, but the family of the other girl who was killed. This is tragic and the upheaval of emotions on both sides would be enormous.
It is said everyone has a twin “out there somewhere!” Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? Have you looked at someone, and spoke, certain you knew them; then realized you really didn’t? How did you react in this situation? Have you ever seen someone who looked just like a celebrity, yet know they weren’t? While people can look alike, I suggest what is more important is what a person has on the inside. As you get to know people who look alike, (even identical twins) you will often discover completely different personalities. I wonder…. when we know people who look alike on the outside but very different on the inside, .......can this change how we “see” their outside?