There is a man who works on the same street as me who thinks I’m somebody else and it’s becoming quite awkward. (For the record, we do not ‘work the street’ alongside one another as prostitutes; he works in the building above my shop.) About a year ago now, he and I were crossing the road at the same time when he engaged in conversation with somebody called Sarah. He asked about work, “good thanks!”, and Sarah’s weekend, “good thanks!” before saying goodbye and wishing me/Sarah a wonderful day. There was no open window of opportunity for me to correct him. So now, to this strange man (let’s call him Bob), I am Sarah. In other news, apparently I have a doppelgänger called Sarah. Let’s hope, for both our sake’s, that she wasn’t whacked with the ugly stick.
I see Bob somewhere between 1 and 4 times each and every week. We buy our coffee from the same place daily, and our lunch from the little salad bar around the corner on Fridays. Each time Bob sees me, he greets me with a big old smile, and I have no choice but to sweetly smile back and pretend that I’m Sarah. I’ve had to go to extreme measures to avoid engaging in conversation with Bob and revealing my false identity. Often I cross the road the second I see him approaching, sending myself on a highly inconvenient detour back to work. I’ve ducked into other shops on the street in avoidance, for example a ridiculously expensive menswear store where I had to pretend I was looking to buy a shirt for my brother’s birthday. (I do not have a brother.) I’ve even considered looking for another job on a street far, far away. When Bob’s eye catches mine, I look away. It has become an awkward game of hide and seek and I just cannot keep it up forever.
Now, there’s more awkwardness to this whole shenanigans. It is very likely that I have permanently ruined the reputation of my doppelgänger. I mean, Bob and Sarah can’t have been close friends for him not to properly recognise her, but there is no doubt in my mind that Bob now finds Sarah to be rude. This uncomfortable situation has caused a chain reaction of uncomfortable situations, for next time Bob sees the real Sarah, it is going to be extraordinarily awkward and confusing for both parties. “How’s work?” “I’m unemployed.” “Wasn’t that chicken focaccia we both bought last week delicious!” “I’m vegetarian.”
And the awkwardness continues. What’s going to happen when Bob eventually realises his mistake and I am revealed as a fraud? Suddenly I’m the weird stranger, not Bob. And we will continue to see each other every couple of days and it will be even more awkward than before because Bob will now know that I pretended to be someone called Sarah for over a year. Really, it’s a weird thing to do when you think about it.
I was going to end my awkward rant there but I’ve just looked up the word ‘doppelgänger’ and have discovered something quite frightening: “In fiction and folklore, a doppelgänger (literally ‘double-goer’) is a look-alike or double of a living person who is sometimes portrayed as a harbinger (say what?) of bad luck. In some traditions, a doppelgänger seen by a person’s relative or friend portends illness or danger while seeing one’s own doppelgänger is said to be an omen of death.” By golly, this has complicated things. Not only am I stuck in an awkward situation; illness or danger is on the cards. Please, somebody help me – preferably neither Bob nor Sarah.