Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

All the Myriad Jeffs


People misspell my name. They do. Holy molybdenum. And I have proof.

Back in 1985, when I became a technical editor at PC Tech Journal, tech companies started sending me stuff. A lot of it was press releases, some of it was swag (Carol still wears some of the T-shirts as summer nightgowns) and a great deal of it was product. Somewhere along the way, somebody misspelled my name on a mailing label. No biggie; it had happened before. It was funny, so I cut out the label and taped it to my office door to amuse passersby.

Two weeks later, I got another one. I cut it out and taped it to the bottom of the first label I had taped to my office door. For the next 17 years, I would semiregularly get shipping labels upon which someone had utterly murdered my name. And not just my last…which is understandable enough. But how many myriad ways are there to spell “Jeff?”

Lots. Each time I got one (most of the time; I let duplicates and some odd permutations get away) I cut it out and taped it to the bottom of the last label in what had become a fairly long string. At some point the string stretched from high eye-level almost to the floor, so I started a second string. Eventually I had to start a third. And a fourth. The strings of funny labels followed me from PC Tech Journal to Turbo Technix to PC Techniques/Visual Developer. When I emptied my desk on that horrible day in 2002 that it all caved in for good, I piled my strings of labels into the bottom of a box and threw a great deal of other stuff on top of it. I tried several times to empty the box, but it was so emotionally wrenching I never quite got to the bottom of the box.

Until now. And lo! There they were!

Most of them were me. A few were sent to mythical firms like The Coriolanus Group, The Cariotis Group, the Coryoless Group, and once to The Coriolis Group at 3202 East Germany. (It was actually Greenway.) The scan at the top of this entry simply serves as evidence that I didn’t make it all up.

How were all these mistakes made? No mystery there: All the people who sent the labels took my name over the phone. I had MCI Mail by 1985, and CompuServe not long after that (76711,470) but the PR universe was a generation behind us nerds. And so when I thought I spoke “Jeff Duntemann” clearly to a rep, she wrote down “Jeff Stuntman.” Or maybe “Jess Tuntemann.” Or…well, see for yourself:

Jeff Stuntman

Gaff Duntemann

Jess Tuntemann

Jeff Duntenann at Turbo Space Technix

Jeff Duntem

Jeff Sullivan

Jeff Puntemann

Jeff Donteman

Steve Duntemann

Ms. Temann

Jeff Dunte-Mann

Jeff Duntermann

Juff Duntemann

Carol Dunkemann

Jeff Quntemann

Jeff Dunkmann

Jeff Deniemann

James Duntemann

Jeff Dunningham

Nancy Duntemann

Jeff Dunttemann

Jeff Duntamun

Jeff Duncan

Jeff Punteann

Don Temann

Jeff Duntecmann

Jeff Dundemann

John Duntemann

Jeff Doutermann

Jeff Donovan

Jeffis Sutemann

Jeff Duntavent

Jeff Doutemon

Prof. Jeff Mr. Duntemann


  1. jimf says:

    I wish I had saved all the misspellings of my name…

  2. Vince says:

    I’m surprised the one addressed to 3202 East Germany reached you.

  3. TRX says:

    My street name is a common last name… in Poland. So from long habit I spell it out whenever giving my address over the phone. I guess some of the phonedroids were alphabet-impaired, because stuff came to the mailbox with all manner of bizarre permutations.

    That sort of thing seldom happens any more since the USPS went to their address verification system; the scanner does a lot of the work the postmen used to have to do. But instead of making a best guess and trying a delivery, the scanner just kicks strange addresses back as “undeliverable.”

    A friend of mine used to live in Colorado Springs, just down the street from the Olympic training center. It was a “mature” neighborhood, probably built before WWI. Yet the location database used by both UPS and USPS refused to acknowledge the existance of his address; each time I mailed something the clerk or a supervisor had to override the software to accept the package.

    (note: they always checked the address when printing with the postage meter, not for stamped or pre-metered mail)

  4. Carrington Dixon says:

    Several decades ago, I received the first issue of a new magazine subscription and found that the numeric portion of my address was all special characters. Apparently, the data-entry clerk used a machine that ‘honored’ shift-lock on the numeric key row as the characters corresponded to those above what the numbers should have been. I guess my name and street was enough for human delivery.

    Incidentally, seldom get mail with my first name misspelled; often with the last misspelled.

  5. Terry says:

    My worst misspelling occurred with my job title at the university computer center where I worked. I was a programmer/analyst but unfortunately, the label only allowed space for Programmer/Anal.

    Needless to say, that mail got posted on the office bulletin board before I could intercept it!

    A second less embarrassing, but more literal error occurred when I spelled out my address to the clerk on the phone and received a catalog addressed to “6142 Los Space Robles”

    1. Yup. I got something at Borland once addressed to “Turbo Space Technix.” (See the fourth line down on the list.)

  6. Tom Roderick says:

    While serving in the Air Force I became very tolerant of being called by many names or expletives. The only one that REALLY bothered me was to be called “KP”. As in a cook in the mess hall saying to me, “KP! Get your %$#@ over here and clean up this mess!”

  7. Denis says:

    No Geoff?

    1. Remarkably, there’s no label in my collection with that name on it, nor do I remember ever getting one. It’s a rare form of the name, and I wonder if people who see it for the first time think it’s a misspelling.

      1. TRX says:

        I first encountered that name in a book I read in elementary school, but it was twenty-odd years later when I found out it was usually pronounced “Jeff.”

  8. Hilarious! Thanks for sharing.

    Incidentally, the most humorous misspelling of my name occurred within the last few weeks.

    I’ve never met Briannie Meier, but I’m told she writes an interesting blog.

  9. RH in CT says:

    Decades ago I looked through one of those return-postcard advertising packets that come in the mail. I found one that guaranteed to put me on thousands of mailing lists – for free! How could I resist such a generous offer? So I filled in the address of a friend of mine from work – last name of Dougherty – but I misspelled that a wee bit – Dogroty or some such. I waited a few years before telling him about it. Apparently they did as they promised and put it on lots and lots of mailing lists.

  10. TRX says:

    I took out a magazine subscription many years ago. I guess the clerk had a hard time making out my handwriting because the magazines came in with a spelling error in my name. And so did tons of junk mail.

    As I subscribed to other magazines I began using different middle initials. That’s how I found out that magazines *aggressively* market their subscriber lists. Junk mail became out primary waste product, a dozen copies of each piece, all with slightly different names. For a while I tried using it to fill in a low spot in the yard, but that turned out to attract termites. At least we could spray for termites, but it took a decade for the junk mail to taper off.

    I have a PO box that I’ve held for 35 years. It *still* gets occasional pieces of junk mail for the previous holder.

  11. Bob Fegert says:

    Jeff Quntemann

    Whooo, that one really stinks.

    I’ve had some pretty sad spellings of my last name…lol

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