Reclaiming Diane’s Identity

Diane and I were both very early adopters of Gmail. We tried to get our first names as our usernames, but Gmail wouldn’t accept them. Instead, Diane’s username is her first name followed by her last initial, and that turns out not to have been a great choice – it seems that there are dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of people who enter that same string as their Gmail username on one form or another.

One of those people tried to set up a PayPal account several years ago – Diane found out when she tried to create a PayPal account and couldn’t because the email address was “taken”. There was no way to get in touch with PayPal about the problem because she couldn’t log onto the account. It wasn’t a serious problem – if someone really had to be paid via PayPal, I took care of it.

Today, we wanted to renew our membership to the Friends of the Los Gatos Library. In the past, they sent us a note in the mail and we sent back a check, but now they’ve joined the digital age and ask for donations to be sent through their webpage, which goes to PayPal. Diane’s name and email were on the account, so we wanted to use it when we made the payment, but, of course, she couldn’t log into that account.

Then I had an inspiration. She tried logging into the account and hit the “forgot your password?” link, which sent a password reset link to the address on the account – her Gmail account. A minute later, she was logged in. And five minutes later, the account was deleted.

Diane then went to the Friends’ site and made the payment with a credit card; PayPal asked if she wanted to set up a new account with that credit card linked to the account. She said “yes”, and, much to my surprise, it worked! I would have thought that PayPal would permanently retire the email address of a deleted account, but nope!

The experience motivated me to check my old Gmail account, where I found a month-old email from an inn in Washington state confirming a reservation from a couple in Ohio who had put my address on their registration. I hope they got it sorted out before they got to the inn!

I was annoyed when I couldn’t get “David” as my Gmail username; perhaps it was all for the best.

One thought on “Reclaiming Diane’s Identity

  1. As an early-adopter-type, my gmail is my last name. There are under 30 people in the world with my last name. Probably a dozen are annoyed that I got there first :)

    This past fall, my son got married. Over the summer, I received an email asking me to please sign the contract with the wedding planner. The date was one week later than his wedding…. And then I noticed the name was wrong.

    Turns out firstinitial-last name was the bride-to-he’s choice since I’d grabbed lastname and the contract was sent without firstinitial.

    I’ve also received job offers for a person on a third branch of our disjointed family tree who had a different firstinitial-lastname.

    It’s infrequent enough to be amusing although the near double-wedding of strangers sharing a unique last name was a bigger surprise.

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