Sententiae viri ex temporibus duobus

Mysteries of the High-tech Work Environment…

I’m always baffled by people who e-mail me who open with a salutation - but misspell my name.

I simply don’t get it.

First, I think that a salutation in email is rather antiquated. It heralds from a time when people got each others' mail, it bespeaks an era of honorifics and senseless keystrokes. Further my name and address are up in the to field, I know who I am, you know who I am. Case closed.

Nevertheless, people still like to use it in email, or so I’ve noticed, when they are either

  1. Asking for something and they got your name as a back-channel to do the magic minus the bureaucracy

  2. Being very formal (usually a prelude to the previous point)

Now, in either of those cases these senders think a salutation will ease their getting what they want. That’s a reasonable conclusion.

Yet if you went to all that trouble, why would you miss the obvious point of spelling my name properly? Thanks to our email infrastructure if you type my email address you will see my name, and see how it is spelled.

Here’s the really strange one - people replying to my mail and misspelling my name. Wait, you have a copy of my mail, you have how to spell my name right at the top of your screen - how could you fail to notice or check that?

The slight of not being addressed properly actually outweighs the good-will established by the use of the salutation. Leaving out the salutation would have made them seem utilitarian and perhaps a bit unfinished, but that’s high-tech for you. A misspelled salutation caters to images of craven sycophancy caught up in its own foibles.