“I have an 8:50 appointment with Dr. Nelson.”
“It could be under Jerry Warren or Lee Warren. Jerry is my first name. Lee is my middle.”
This health network recently added a “preferred name” field in their system and once I added “Lee” to it, things got very complicated. I’m now listed in their system in some places as Jerry L. Warren and as Lee L. Warren in other places. I’ve tried to get this sorted out, but I just get blank stares.
The woman behind the desk looked for my appointment for at least a minute before she said, “Is this appointment for Jennifer?”
I was so confused. “No, it’s for Jerry or Lee.”
“Date of birth, please.”
I gave it to her.
More keyboard tapping. “Your appointment was for last Wednesday.”
“I was here for that. Had surgery here that day. This is a follow-up. I made the appointment a couple of days ago.”
More keyboard tapping. Then she leaned over and asked someone behind the desk for help. That led to her excusing herself and stepping away for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, I stood on very tender feet that I was still nursing post-surgery that she seemed to know nothing about.
Eventually, another woman approached the desk. “You know what, your name is similar to another patient whose name is Jennifer. It must have auto-filled when I took your appointment. I apologize.”
At least I got to see the doctor after the mix-up was resolved.
Later that day, I received a call asking if Charles was available. I get calls for “Charles” probably once a week. And if I tell the various telemarketers that they have the wrong number, they say, “Oh, well maybe you can help me …” before starting a sales pitch.
Still later that day, I received a card in the mail addressed to Mr. Warrant. It included someone’s business card. I’m not all that inclined to do business with someone who doesn’t know my name.
When people get your name wrong, it feels like you don’t really matter – that you are a means to an end. I’m not saying this is true. I’m terrible with names and often struggle to remember them after meeting someone for the first time. So I understand how it happens.
I read an article recently that attempted to answer the question: How many names does the average person remember. The answer? It depends. But the conclusion was, “there are about 150 people whose names and faces you can remember without a prompt.”
If that number makes you feel small, Isaiah 43:1 is incredible news for those who believe: “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’”
“They are his peculiar people,” writes Matthew Henry in his commentary about this verse, “whom he has distinguished from others, and set apart for himself: he has called them by name, as those he has a particular intimacy with and concern for, and they are his, are appropriated to him and he has a special interest in them.”
The next time someone forgets or butchers your name, smile and know that God never will.