Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Don Ricardo

The name Ricardo Andrade is one of the most common in Brazil – about the equivalent of Peter Smith in the U.S. And somehow, in the early days of gmail, I managed to snag the coveted “” email address. The result, six or seven years later, is that I keep getting personal emails sent my way – not spam, but sincere emails from people who mistakenly think I’m Rodrigo Andrade, the parent of a truant high school student in New Mexico,, or dozens of other possibilities.

Now, most of the time, a simple, “I’m sorry, you sent this in error” to me is enough to not get emails again, but there is a small, persistent, and vocal minority that do not believe that I’m not the person they are trying to reach, and in fact, argue with me to knock it off. With gmail, this becomes even more problematic because of the “chat” function, so I often find myself chatting with people, trying to convince them that I am not, in fact the person they think I am. And two of these threads have been going on for over two years.

The first is from a guy Marlison in Brazil who thinks I’m his college buddy Romario. Apparently, Romario always arrives on campus first, and the buddy wants to find out what the upcoming classes are like. And apparently, Romario must be quite the joker, because no matter how much I argue that I’m not Romario, even offering to do video chats and phone calls on my US cell phone number, Marlison thinks that I’m pulling his leg. So after a while, I usually just give in and make up information about the classes I’m supposedly taking. Here’s a transcription of a typical chat with this guy, translated from the portuguese:

marlisonhbsi: Hey Romario!
Heeeeyyy... do you know when class starts?
me: I'm not romario. I'm Ricardo
marlisonhbsi: There you go with your kidding
later later
me: No, really. I live in the United States. I'm Ricardo Andrade
marlisonhbsi: so, Romario Ricardo Andrade
and the classes?
me: Dude - you're talking to the wrong person. :
marlisonhbsi: yes, romario ricardo
and the classes?
me: Do you want to do a video chat or skype to prove I'm not Romario?
Call me in the U.S. now . 650-793-3537
American cell
marlisonhbsi: I don't want to know if you are romario ou ricardo I want to know about the classes
me: what classes?
marlisonhbsi: the classes
Don't you study?
me: no
I work
a lot
marlisonhbsi: you think I don't know you?
me: Where do I know you from?
marlisonhbsi: is your car working better
me: it's much better
marlisonhbsi: thought it'd get worse
right now
yes, and the classes?
quit kidding around
since you're there
tell me.

The second one is even better, because apparently I’m a very important man in Southern Chile, who is holding off some sort of civil project because I refuse to sign the documents. I’m not kidding. A guy by the name of Christian has been emailing me for over two years, very politely asking me to please sign the documents, so they came move on with this project. He’s even gone as far as writing me a long philosophical letters addressed to the “Esteemed Don Ricardo” flattering me and my services in every way possible in hundreds of words, only to finish off saying that “as you can see, this is very important, and your cooperation in this matter is urgently needed.” One letter started, in spanish, as “Dear Esteemed Don Ricardo. I would like to share with you some of my reflections regarding the Garcia letter.”

He even comes on chat every once in a while. One time, he chatted that he was waiting his meeting with “me” in the auditorium, so he must have been surprised when he saw “me” come online at the time of this meeting. This was one of the many times that I argued with Christian that I’m not Don Ricardo, and the general response is always, “Ah, yes, very funny, Don Ricardo. But please, Don Ricardo. We need those documents.”

And I keep having to tell him that I don’t speak Spanish, but it doesn’t matter. He thinks I’m kidding.

So I’m picturing that Christian is an eager young intern that has been assigned to deal with the jokester of Don Ricardo, the town’s Marlon Brando in the later years. Because the only reason I think this has continued on for so long is that 1) Don Ricardo is the kind of guy who hides whoopee cushions during important meetings, so pretending he’s not Don Ricardo on emails is not beyond him, and 2) He’s a powerful and intimidating enough person that no one dares question him – kind of like no one questioned Brando when he made some cookey acting decisions in his later years.

From what I understand, the project has to do with preparing the city for its 100-year celebration of its founding, with a few public works. And based on the emails that came into my inbox for so long, I’m assuming that the celebration came and went without any festivities, and that somewhere, there is a fuming, real Don Ricardo wondering why no one asked him to sign any documents…

Anyway, that has nothing to do with SAS, but I was reminded of it because we’re heading to Barcelona tomorrow, and the word “Don” comes up quite a bit, especially since we have an actual Spanish Knight, Don David Gies, aboard the ship. We sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar yesterday, and could easily see Spain and Morocco at the same time (well, I have deep set eyes with terrible peripheral vision, so not technically at the same time. But I could if I had a mirror. You get the picture. I’m a hunter, not a gatherer).

At this point, the two countries are only seven or so miles apart, and the terrain is fairly dramatic. There are very large letters written on a Moroccan mountain that says, in Arabic, “God, Country, King.”, and what appears to be a fairly large fort of some kind, but I have no idea at this point. It’s pretty easy to see why the Strait (Straits? There’s only one) inspired the Gates of Hercules at one time. I was almost anticipating sailing through two large statues a-la Lord of the Rings at any time. We’ll be refueling at the Rock of Gibraltar

But it was pretty awesome. We were greeted by a bunch of dolphins out our window again, and ship traffic was pretty heavy as everyone is funneled into this area. They also have jumping swordfish out here too, which we saw out of our window. Which is nice.

The Spanish side had a lot of windmills (and we had a great lecture today on how Spain is a leader in developing renewable energy today). It has been really neat learning about Spanish history the last several days, particularly the fact that because of the Islamic invasion, Spain continued advancing as a civilization while the rest of Europe fell into the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome. I miss school.

That’s it. I’m off to take Elise to the pool, and tomorrow we’ll hit Barcelona, so there may be silence on our end for a few days.

P.S. We're sailing past Ibiza right now. You can see the clubs from here.

No comments: