Sunday, March 10, 2019

To some, we are dead ringers

I work at a public library desk and I have a coworker who patrons constantly think is me. He looks nothing like me, but he IS the other middle-aged balding, graying white guy. 

So when we have a shift change at the top of the hour, often a patron he helped earlier will come back by the desk and thank me. I usually just smile and nod. "You're welcome." Often a patron will walk in the front doors and say "Remember me from last week? You were right. I went home and tried rebooting and it worked!" I have never seen them before. 

It's O.K. We all look alike. 

We have a young Latina who also works the desk, and a middle aged lady. They don't get mistaken for each other by the public, understandably. But for Gaetano and me, it happens constantly, almost daily. 

His name is Gaetano, so even our names look similar at a glance on our nametags. He is Italian-American. One time a woman walked up to me, clearly having had a previous conversation with him, and she opened with "So are you FLUENT in Italian or just speak a little?" I said I was George and the only Italian I know is fuhgeddaboutit. 

People are generally embarrassed to get us wrong. If I'm being honest, it's kind of entertaining.

Recently when I relieved Gaetano from desk duty, within five minutes of each other, an old guy thanked me for giving him extra computer time and a woman happily held up a book and said "I found it. The title was just a little different than I thought." 

I never saw them before.

It happens to him after I leave the desk just as often. Even our fellow staff, if they have just come on shift and only see one of us out of the corner of their eye, will call us by the other's name. They are apologetic, always, since they know it's a "thing." They even have a nickname for us. 

They call us "Georgetano." 

Turns out we both went to the same high school, although a dozen years apart. We're both dads. We both deliver a wry punch line quietly, with a straight face. We often wear the same library logo polo shirts. How can we blame the public? Some people couldn't tell Redford and Newman apart.

That is why it occurred to me that I could totally commit the perfect crime, as long as it occurred in the library. A whole string of witnesses would swear they saw Gaetano do it. I have to figure out the details still. We have worked together for 14 years, all of them leading up to this moment. The doppelgänger denouement! It is destiny. 

Or, to borrow a library phrase, it is way overdue.

Except I just wrote about it. Crap. Or did Gaetano just write about it? Ha! That would really show premeditation on his part. Oh, he is totally going down. 



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