The problem with having a common last name

Image source: splityarn

{Phone call this morning}

Hi Trace!
Um, Hi.
What’s up, Trace?!
Um, I’m sorry who is this?
Don’t pretend you don’t know who this is!
I’m sorry, I really don’t.
I’m one of Carlos’s friends.
Okay, sorry, that doesn’t help me. Which one of his friends?
Come on, Trace! You know! Stop playin!
I really don’t, sorry.
I’m the one who always picks on ya, Trace!
Um, I don’t even hang out with Carlos’s friends enough for anyone to pick on me.
Come on, Trace! You know who this is! It’s Eric!
We’re not good friends with anyone named Eric and very few people even call me, Trace.
Stop playin! I know it’s you! I know your voice!
Obviously not. I think you’ve got the wrong Tracy and Carlos.
No I don’t! You’re the only one’s in the book! Tracy and Carlos Lopez!
That doesn’t mean anything. Lopez is a really common last name and I’m telling you, I don’t know you!
Yes you do!
Okay, fine, where is Carlos from?
Yes, he is!
I think I know where my own husband is from and he’s not from Mexico.
Okay… sorry about that. Bye.


And this isn’t even the first time people have called insisting they knew who we were and that we were the ones who were confused. One night a not-so-intelligent sounding teenage girl called. When I answered the phone she demanded to know who I was and what was I doing at Carlos’s house.

“I live here. I’m his wife!” I said.
“No you ain’t! He ain’t got no wife!”
“You’ve got the wrong Carlos, honey.”
“No I don’t! I met him last night and I’m his new girlfriend. He told me to look him up in the book and this is the only one. Who the hell are you?”
“Honey, you’re making a fool of yourself. Carlos Lopez is a common name and my Carlos was right here with me last night just like he is every night.”
“You’re lyin!”
“No hon, you’re confused. Look, where is your Carlos from?”
“He’s Spanish!”

{I highly doubt the guy she met was from Spain. By “Spanish” she simply meant “Latino” but was too ignorant to know the difference – so this question didn’t help anything.}

“Let me talk to him!” she demanded.
I handed the phone to Carlos. After she spoke with him for a minute she realized it wasn’t her Carlos and hung up.


Neither of these phone calls were as bad as the one from the police looking for a Carlos Lopez who had a warrant out for his arrest due to a parole violation. (Thankfully the mix-up was untangled within minutes.)

Even though it costs extra to have an unlisted number in the phone book, I’m starting to seriously consider it.

21 thoughts on “The problem with having a common last name

  1. I’m fortunate enough to be married to someone with more uncommon last name and to have an unlisted number. There are about 100 Ramon Nolascos in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, NY alone, but they are all Dominican and distant cousins. We did receive a bill from the collections agency for a Ramon Nolasco who owed a credit card company over $3,000, but the social security numbers did not match.

    My Suegro (may he rest in peace) lacked imagination while naming his sons: four of them are Ramon Antonio Nolasco and three of them have Martinez as the mother’s last name (from three different mothers!) They all have nicknames: Chichi, Chery, Charanga and Millu so if you ask for Ramon Antonio Nolasco, everyone will ask, “who’s that?”

    This is an idea for a blog entry: how nicknames (apodos) define Latinos. Perhaps it is just a family/neighborhood quirk for my husband and not all Dominicans,

  2. Ay ay ay!!! Amiga.. I´m speechless! I don´t know how you´ve put up with this all this time! My patience would´ve caved in by phone call #2. These conversations are funny yet… a pain?
    Pero eres una campeona para manejarlos!
    You rock amiga.
    Great post!!!

  3. We’ve had collection agencies calling us repeatedly looking for someone with a similar name as my husband’s. Wrong numbers are annoying!

  4. People are so crazy! I didn’t think is cost extra to be unlisted. You guys are so patient with wrong numbers, I just hang up. If they call again since I can see the number come up on the TV, I lift the phone and hang up again.

  5. From what I’ve been able to figure out, I’m the only Josie Iraheta, but there’s a lot of Jose Irahetas. My husband’s name is Jose and people mix US up all the time because our first names are so close.

  6. En dos ocasiones recibí una llamada que iba asi:
    Sr: Esta Hector?
    Yo: De parte de quien?
    Sr: El coyote, aquí en California?
    Yo: Coyote?
    Sr: Si, por favor dígale a Hector que ya tengo aqui a su primo.
    Yo:Disculpe, creo que tiene el # equivocado.
    Sr: Esta es la casa de hevtor Del Cid?
    Yo:Si, pero no conocemos a ningún primo que haya necesitado los servicios de un coyote!

    A couple months later he called again but that time the conversation ended: Mire, si vulve a llamar le pongo el dedo con la Migra!

    The End!

    • Wow – I wonder if they really had someone’s primo and just got the wrong Hector del Cid, or if it was a scam where they just look up Spanish surnames in the phone book and tell this story. I mean, they might not get lucky every time, but eventually they will hit upon someone who does have a primo who is crossing or someone who just gets worried that a primo crossed without their knowledge and pay up :p

  7. Pingback: OC Latino ‘Links’ for Wednesday, Oct. 12 - OC Latino Link : The Orange County Register

  8. Love your phone calls! lol ahhhhhh!!! you reminded me of when I was younger and my father got arrested by immigration because they confused him with another guy who had his exact name down to the middle name and was from El Salvador as well the only difference was their age. I guess back in those days it took them a while to confirm things but my daddy ended up being in jail (more then what he would have been) because he was literally grabbed from behind and he thought he was getting robbed so he turned around and punch the immigration officer in the face lol funny but sad all at once, I am just glad all that mess got cleared! lol

  9. OMG, I wouldn’t have the patience to deal with so many phone calls. For me it depends on my mood. I could be pleasant or I could be mean. Especially if they keep calling after I tell them they have the wrong number. I’m wondering what your husband thought when you gave him the phone so he could talk to the girl, lol.

  10. This is hilarious! It really does suck to have a common last name. Although, I only get the old “You’re a Hernandez, too? My friend’s last name is Hernandez! Maybe y’all are cousins!”, to which I kindly agree and roll my eyes once they walk away. Ha.

    You’re a patient lady, dealing with all those calls… ay ay ay…

  11. That is too funny. It reminded me of a phone call I got a year ago when i said the lady had the wrong number. She called back and left a number to her brother cursing up a storm. I still have it. Wonder if I should make a file to save it. lol

  12. DEFINITELY worth getting an unlisted number. We go cheap and have an internet phone, and they did ours “unlisted” for free.
    But you still get the occasional weirdness. We had somebody calling collect from Harris County Jail so often I finally just accepted the charges so I could tell him he had the wrong number.
    Once had a guy calling our house repeatedly for a Lucrecia. I had him about convinced it was the wrong number until he saw her somewhere again and she convinced him it really was her number (the guy even admitted to me he bought her more drinks after that). Once when my ex-husband answered he said “look, dude, why don’t you come over and see for yourself, the address is 1216 Amherst.” Can you believe the poor little guy actually showed up!!!

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