The day started with a bang! 'Boss Guy' rushed into the office and joyfully boomed, "Announcing, new team member: Professional Pat!" A round of applause erupted from Pat's enormously supportive and welcoming new workplace team. "How exciting!" thought team member Lee, "A new coworker to lighten our load. Maybe Pat will be the missing piece to our workplace puzzle; filling our hearts while helping us complete our tasks. But I know nothing about Pat. I wonder what Pat’s interests are. I wonder if Pat has a family. I wish I had a little information to help me break the ice with Pat and avoid any potential land mines. What to do??...What to do??" considered Lee
No more than a couple of decades ago, this scenario would have just run its course, awkward moments and all. In the olden days (pre-internet), there were three basic ways to learn valuable morsels of information about a person: 1. a stirring round of 20 questions, 2. squeeze intel out of the local "know it all" and 3. (the more stalker-esque route) hire a P.I. Today, all of us inquisitive souls have Google…and Facebook.
Now Lee, being a truly resourceful and internet savvy individual, sprinted to the nearest computer and Googled "Professional Pat". To Lee's great relief, a Facebook page was top of the search results. Clicking away, Lee was beginning to feel thoroughly informed about Pat and exceedingly thankful for modern technology.
What (one might ask), had Lee found on Facebook to make Lee feel so informed?? Well, in addition to enjoying a few cheery photos, Lee discovered that it seemed this new coworker was happily married...to a 3 ton African elephant; tusks, trunk and all. "OK", thought Lee, "Good to know! Now we'll be able to avoid any possible awkwardness regarding Pat's marriage. Knowing this information ahead of time means I won't show even a glimmer of shock or surprise when Pat offers me a peek at a family photo or tries to share some humorous spousal anecdote . I certainly don't want Pat to feel judged or rejected. I'm really thankful I Googled Pat!"
As Pat's first week was coming to a close, Lee was feeling very confused. Pat hadn't once mentioned any elephant. In fact, the way Pat talked, Pat was beginning to sound exceedingly single. "How awkward!" thought Lee, "I wonder if Pat is a secretive person, or worse...embarrassed and hiding a marriage? Something didn't feel right to Lee. Once again Lee enlisted the services of that trusted Google-search friend. Lee quickly found Pat's Facebook page again, the one boasting photos of Pat...and Pat's four-legged spouse. This time Lee took a much closer and deeper look, and with the benefit of having spent a week with Pat in person, was able to discern that although this Facebook page owner greatly resembled Pat and shared Pat's name, it was absolutely NOT Pat!
Lee sat back and felt a wave of warm embarrassment rising, imagining just how close to catastrophe they'd come. Lee was so thankful to have resisted the temptation to ask about Pat's significant other (in a knowing fashion).
Lee learned an important lesson: Sometimes the elephant doesn't belong to anyone in the room because it's oddly possible for more than one person to have the same name and nearly the same face.