I signed up for Gmail on June 14, 2004, two months after the service launched and thus was able to secure my favorite username. It’s but one of the many, many e-mail addresses that I’ve used over the years but it’s still my go to for sites that I’m not 100% comfortable sharing personal information with. Which is to say that this isn’t a primary address that I value extremely highly, or even check every day. However, I do use it and plan to do so for many years to come, that is until something weird started happening that’s made me reconsider it’s value.

A couple of years ago I received someone else’s e-mail. At first I thought it was SPAM, but upon closer inspection realized that it wasn’t. Apparently someone had simply addressed an e-mail with the wrong address. The weird thing was that I didn’t know this person, so why did they e-mail me?

The only conclusion that I could come up with was that one of two things happened: someone had apparently given someone the wrong address, or the sender simply entered it wrong. For example, maybe they meant to send their e-mail to m.ashby@gmail.com and forgot to include the period.

Since that first e-mail, I’ve been getting increasing amounts of mis-addressed mail. Sometimes I reply to let the person know of the error, but more often than not I simply delete it. When it started it was just an occasional e-mail, but it’s streakily increased over time. Now I get at least one a week, if not more.


  • Marci Ashby, from Delta UT, just had Dish Network installed.
  • Donna H is subscribed me to the AARP Newsletter.
  • Maria del Rocio Ashby subscribed me to the Los Angeles County Bar Association Newsletters.
  • Matt Ashby of G&F Associates recently stayed at the Residence Inn Marriott in Room 811 back in March.
  • In March, Mary Ashby was in her second trimester.
  • Michael Ashby, an Integrated Solutions Manager for AT&T faxed me a copy of his drivers license and a blank check. With this one e-mail, I have his work and home address, phone number, drivers license number, height, weight, eye color, checking account number and signature. (Wow! I mean how do you screw up your own e-mail address that bad? )
  • Too many teacher evaluations about a misbehaving child, what snacks to bring, or when to pickup said errant child to even count.
  • And today I was asked to send out a proposal for a drilling project in Belize. (Fascinating to see how much the day-rate for a “tractor air mode” is. Not that I know what that means, but I’m clearly in the wrong business.)

Given the fact that this issue is only getting worse, I’ve actually considered abandoning my Gmail address for something more complicated. Clearly my address is way to easy and there are too many Ashby’s out there in the world who don’t know their own e-mail address.

Yet, I like my address and it sometimes funny to get someone else’s e-mail by mistake. If you think about it, it’s almost as if my e-mail address has multiple personalities. Each time an errant e-mail lands in my inbox, I feel a bit like I’ve been dropped into a play, only I don’t have the script, and I’m looking for clues trying to figure out where I fit in.

Better yet, I’m more like Dick Clark’s receptionist, “And you are…”