When I’m Joe, I can grunt and really mean it

I work with a guy whose name is, for the sake of this story, Art. Many years ago, Art and I had a lot of common work-related projects, so we’d be in meetings together quite often. Then, as the years went on and our responsibilities no longer overlapped as much, I might only meet with Art once or twice a year.

At some point, Art and I no longer had any meetings together anymore, but I’d still see him around every now and then. Just another work acquaintance like we all have.

One day, I was walking around the hallways after not seeing Art for many years when he showed up just like that, so I said hello. He gave me a big smile as usual, then looked me straight in the eye and shouted out, “Hi, Joe!”

At first, I thought he must be talking to someone behind me but I looked around and there was no one there, so I just laughed. Now, to this day, every time he sees me he calls me Joe.

This is a little odd, especially when others are around that know both of us. He probably forgot who I was after so many years, but not all the way, and then somehow associated my face with the name Joe for some reason. Who knows why he did it, but I never correct him because, quite frankly (no pun intended), I get a kick out of it.

In my normal life as Frank, I continue on as just another average guy who works in a Dilbert-like office complete with cubicle and pictures of the wife and kids on the walls — yet another working stiff with a family and all the responsibilities that come with that.

Very plain-vanilla I must admit — just another average Joe, haha. So whenever Art calls me Joe, for that brief little time, I imagine that I really am Joe, and I have such a good time with it, it’s unbelievable.

In my Joe persona, I’m no longer stuck at a keyboard all day. As Joe, I’m either a roofer, carpenter, electrician, or auto mechanic, depending on my mood. The good thing is: As Joe, I go out and Get Things Done — real, tangible things that anyone can look at and see, not like the ethereal software that I normally create and maintain.

As Joe, I have a much more physical presence in the world. When I’m Joe, I can grunt and really mean it.

As Joe, when the day is over, I get home, and there’s a happy wife and a hot meal waiting for me always. In my mind, all the hard-working blue-collar Joes of the world get that as a matter of course.

Then, depending on the night, I’d do what all good Joes do: crack open a six-pack and watch the Yankees, or go out and play in the bowling league, or attend the poker game. Of course, if it’s the weekend, there’s lawn-mowing and barbecuing one day, then fishing and family time the next.

Joe doesn’t do a lot of different things but the things he does he just loves and does them as often and as heartily as he can. Joe is all about the flag, baseball, and apple pie. Nothing wrong with that. Good for him.

I sometimes imagine what it would have been like if Art had called me another name instead of Joe, like Sergio. Now there’s a good name. Think of great shoes, a nice sport coat, a flashy silk shirt, and of course a dark tan and great hair.

As Sergio, I’d be so good-looking and full of confidence the ladies would really notice. Then again my lovely wife wouldn’t be so happy with that, I’m sure. Maybe it’s a good thing Art called me Joe instead of Sergio. I don’t need any more problems; I have enough already, thank you very much.

This whole thing about being called Joe instead of Frank has given me another idea. You know when you go to an event and they give you a peel-off label that you’re supposed to write your name on and then stick on your shirt? Who says you have to put your real name on there, anyway?

Maybe I should write Joe on there next time, or maybe Morris or Sheldon. I know Morris and Sheldon aren’t sexy like Sergio, but with a name like Morris or Sheldon I might finally have the discipline to forgo immediate pleasure and sit down and write the next great phone app. There’s a reason why great coders are often named Morris or Sheldon.

Now that I think of it, as much fun as it is being Joe every now and then, what if I’ve been mistakenly calling someone by the wrong name all these years? Hey, if it can happen to Art, it can happen to me. We’re about the same age after all.

Maybe this would help explain the weird stares and nervous laughs I get all the time. Or maybe it’s just my personality. Let’s face it, it could be that very easily. Gulp.

If you hear someone call me Joe, don’t say anything. Just go along with it. Why spoil it after all these years?