Posted by: Bonnie Anderson | August 18, 2011

Automation Has Gone a Little Too Far, or Never Name Your Child Bob Anderson

First the disclaimer – I love my husband Bob more than I could ever have imagined.  But that being said, never name your child Bob Anderson (this includes Robert and Rob).  There are too many of them out there.  I am going to suggest a quota be set for each name.  I am sure a government agency would be willing to jump on this idea and our taxes could go to support such a worthy cause.  Here are a couple of reasons why his name has caused us problems.

I came home the other day and saw the red blinking light on our answering machine.  There was an automated message for my husband from a rather paranoid sounding person.  Here’s the gist of it:

“This call is for Robert Anderson.  If you are Robert Anderson, please continue to listen.  If you are not Robert Anderson and he is at home, I will pause a moment for you to get him to the phone.  Quiet.  If you are not Robert Anderson, please disconnect.  If you are Robert Anderson, please write down the following information.  I will pause a moment for you to find pen and paper.  Quiet again.  This is the law office of Notso, Slick and Smart.  Please call the following number so that we can settle a private matter with you.”

Except for the name of the law firm, I am not exaggerating here.  This is a message on our answering machine.  Am I really not supposed to listen to the entire message?  Don’t they know how many thousands of Robert Andersons are out there?  There are two on our street!  Bob has worked in offices where there were multiple Bob Andersons.  I don’t know how he hasn’t developed some kind of identity disorder.

We have also had calls to set up delivery for products that we did not order.  I even had somebody call us one time who didn’t believe that we weren’t the right Bob Anderson.  They were so insistent that they told me the social security number of the Bob they were looking for.  But the best one was one night several years ago when my husband picked up the phone to this surprising call:

“Hello, Bob?”

“Yes, this is Bob.”

“It’s so good to hear your voice.  It’s been a while.”

“Who are you calling for?”

“Bob, it’s me, your mother!”

“You don’t sound like my mother.”

“You don’t recognize your own mother’s voice?” she said with shock and tears.

“Where are you?”

“I’m in Ohio, of course.”

“Well,” my Bob said, “my mother lives in Maryland.”

“Oh, well then, never mind.”

I wish I could tell you that we learned from the problem of having such a common name, but we named one of our sons Joseph.  Sorry Joe.  If you are reading this and your name is Joseph Anderson and you are my son, thank you for your forgiveness.  If you’re not the Joseph Anderson that’s my son, never mind.



  1. You could have at least picked an unusual middle name!

    • I know, but if it comforts you at all, one of the reasons your name is Joseph is because of Joseph in the Old Testament. I love that story and love how God used him and especially how he knew that what the enemy meant for harm God meant for good. Joseph also had brothers who gave him a hard time yet he was a peacemaker, like you. So, now do you forgive us?

      • Yeah, it’s a good name.

      • Whew!

  2. Bonnie:
    I loved this. And, the Notso Smart & Slick lawfirm and all its clones (which is usually nothing other than a glorified collection agency that is not even retained by the creditor- they hope to collect, keep a fee, and then send the rest to the creditor in satisfaction (since they would be thrilled to get 40-60% of what they already gave up on). Moreover, you can even get phone calls saying you live next door to “Joe Blow”, could you please have him contact us. He won’t take our calls. (I have received more than three dozen of these- including one from the IRS!!!! [I saved that one for my wall…]
    So, don’t feel put upon by your husband’s name. It could be worse… It could be Bernie Madoff…

    • So true, Roy. Our son wanted to name his first born son after my dad whose name is Arthur, but being in finance himself he could not give him the name Arthur Anderson.

      • And, why not? I’m sure it would have granted him fantastic entre. Who’s calling? Arthur Anderson. One second, sir…

      • Lots of funny possibilities, for sure.

  3. I laughed throughout this post – genius!! Ironically, when I was in the 2nd grade I wanted to change my name to Scott Smith because it was easier to write in cursive instead of Salvatore Nichols Constantino. Thanks for the chuckle!

    • Thank you, Tor. Scott Smith, huh, I know one of them. I also have a son named Scott, who doesn’t have it quite as bad as my son named Joe.

  4. Too funny! On the other hand, don’t name your kid something stupid and crazy just to try to be “original” and avoid this type of confusion. I grew up with a girl named Chiquita. Seriously, like the banana. New Zealand has had such a rash of stupid names (I heard one was Bus Stop, but don’t know if that’s true or not) that parents are now being taken to court and judges are ruling that the name is off limits. You want to be named Apple or Bob? I think I’d have to go with the latter. 🙂

    • Good point, Amethyst. Makes me think of that Seinfeld episode where George wants to name a child Seven after Mickey Mantle.

  5. Why do you think I go by Beta?

    • I guess I had not thought about that. Maybe one day I’ll be able to call you Beta. I think it has slipped out a time or two. I’ll try not to fight it.

  6. Bonnie that is so funny!! In the town I grew up in, the local priest RENAMED all the children at their baptism. All the girls were renamed Mary and all the boys Joseph. My grandparents had 8 Josephs and 5 Marys!!! Needless to say they all went by their middle names…names like: Eleazar, Elvira, Donat, Hard to know which was better! ;-D

    • Sounds like a recipe for confusion, though the way I mix up my four kids names if that had happened to us it might have made things simpler. Makes me think of George Foreman – I think he named all his sons George Foreman.

  7. This is a great post! My husband changed his name from Robert. That is a very common name but since he was adopted he just changed his whole name. Our son has faired much better as there arent very many people with the name Chance or Chance Shawn

    • Thank you, Carol. I like your son’s name. Does he have any problem with having people figure out which is his first and last name?

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