I have been both blessed and cursed by an unusual last name. Blessed, because I never experience mistaken identity (excepting, of course, being mistaken for my brother). Plus, it’s a highly recognizable moniker–nobody’s ever going to ask “er, which Darren Barefoot do you mean?” On the other hand, I suffered my fair share of schoolyard abuse growing up. In adulthood, I must tolerate hearing the same five jokes about my last name.
My Irish colleague Tom has a different set of name-related issues:
My parents, God bless them, werenâ€™t the most imaginative when deciding on my name. It’s a proud family name, but Tom Murphy isn’t exactly exotic. Indeed a quick search finds a playwright, the mayor of Pittsburgh and thousands of other similarly named individuals. We all have the same problem. There was an analyst at Meta Group (R.I.P.) called Tom Murphy and for years we used to receive each other’s media queries. It’s funny we now both work at Microsoft and the confusion has continued unabated.
But in the past week or so, the media in Ireland and the UK have been focussing in on an unsavoury Tom Murphy or to give him his full title, Tom ‘Slab’ Murphy (no relation). He is the alleged chief of staff of the IRA and has been linked with some dodgy property dealings in the UK amongst other things. The story has been on every TV news bulletin, radio bulletin, broadsheet, tabloid and online news service over here.
The lesson? If you’re going to be notorious, do everybody a favour and change your name to something unique.