A couple of weeks ago, Transcript Bulletin Photo Editor Francie Aufdemorte and I were checking in at the gatehouse at Dugway Proving Ground for an assignment.
“Better check her for warrants,” Aufdemorte joked to the man behind the counter.
They do that kind of thing, anyway, but the man wasn’t laughing.
“What’s your birth date?” he asked.
I told him.
“Oh, good,” he said.
Turns out 11 warrants popped up for Lisa Christensen, same middle name, same spelling, only she was a little older than me. Even her picture looked similar enough to be a relative — if I had eight years of (alleged) drug dealing and solicitation.
Remind me to never get pulled over in Salt Lake, just in case they don’t care about when my birthday is.
In the Utah Court case system, women with my exact name have been convicted in five separate felony cases, filed paternity suits three times and filed for divorce nine times. The only one of the more than 100 cases filed by or against us in Utah that is actually mine is a traffic ticket from last year, which was dismissed, thank you very much.
I can’t say I’ve ever had someone accuse me — or my doppleganger — of crimes before, but being mixed up with other Lisa Christensens is nothing new. There are only so many names in the world, and a finite number of combinations of ordinary first names and ordinary last names. With seven billion people in the world, there are bound to be duplications. I understand this. It just seems a little absurd sometimes.
Take my college experience. At Utah State University, which is really not that big of a school, there were seven other Lisa Christensens while I was there, and six of us had the same middle name. It seemed like about once or twice a semester I’d get an email that wasn’t meant for me, and once on the first day of class I heard a teacher talk to another student about how excited he was that Lisa Christensen was going to be in class and he’d introduce her to them as soon as she got there.
To his credit, he did try not to look disappointed when he realized that he was stuck with me instead.
Another time, I went on a date, and I thought things were going really well until the guy confessed that he had just broken up with another Lisa Christensen. So apparently we even had similar taste in men.
Worst of all — true story — at the end of it all, I had a diploma sent to another Lisa Christensen. Luckily, we got that one worked out, eventually.
Even after leaving college, I can’t shake the Other Lisas (who at least, as far as I know, don’t have warrants out for them). USU has updated their records for me twice, changing my name to reflect the two marriages I guess I’ve had in the last five years. I don’t know how hard it is to get divorced, but it’s kind of a beast to convince the alumni association that I’ve never been married to begin with.
I’m not named John Smith or anything, but I guess both Lisa and Christensen are both common names. My dad used to get confused with another guy when the Other Keith Christensen was on the Salt Lake City Council. My sister was once simultaneously given a plaque for achieving a 4.0 GPA throughout junior high and a letter telling her when summer school would be so she could make up all of those failing grades. (For the record, she was only supposed to get the plaque.)
Probably the worst one, though, is my 16-year-old cousin, occasionally confused with another Jacob L. Christensen who was convicted of rape in Logan a couple of years ago. I suddenly feel a lot better about myself.
I have a group of cousins on my mother’s side who all complain about the, uh, uniqueness of their names ad nauseum, like, “Ugh, I have to spell my name out for people all the time” and “I can never find a keychain with my name on it!”
Two words: eleven warrants.
The next generation will not have the same confusion. The years of name mix-ups have motivated me to dream up a collection of unique names and spellings for my future children, names like Tobaeglyn and D’Quoxtah Scheighyanne.
Luckily, my future children will also be super smart.
Sure, Tobaeglyn (or Tobaeglynne, if it’s a girl), may not be able to find that name in the baby name book, but “Lisa” technically isn’t, either — every one I’ve ever looked at just tells me, “See Elizabeth.”
If I wanted to see “Elizabeth,” I would have looked up “Elizabeth,” dummy. Not bitter at all.
As a reporter, you meet lots of people, and I’ve come across a lot of really interesting names. The only conclusion I can draw from all of the Kaielynnes and Reighleeys is that their parents, too, must have gotten sick of being confused with others by the same name. Some married couples even take half of their last names and combine them for a new one.
If my parents had only done that, things would have been a lot easier on me. I can just about guarantee there wouldn’t have been another Lisa Mestensen or Lisa Christervy in the world.
Then again, there is a certain benefit to anonymity. One of my weird-named cousins added the wrong Lisa Christensen on Facebook a couple of times before I finally found her, but that could work to my advantage if someone who somehow has no mutual friends with me tries to harass me online. If someone hears a scandalous story about Lisa Christensen, well, who’s to say she is me?
And if someday I ever rack up 11 warrants of my own and get pulled over, you can bet I’ll try to blame them on another Lisa Christensen. Plus, I can always find my name on a keychain.
I guess that makes us pretty much even.