Four lynxes
“Which one is who?”
A few years ago, we were on our way to shop for things we needed to cook dinner for a bunch of friends coming to an event at our place in the evening. Two of those friends, Jared and Sky, were driving down to town to attend a convention meeting that we weren’t going to. Not far from the store, I looked into my rearview mirror and saw Jared and Sky right behind us in Jared’s distinctive Mini Cooper!

I thought it was a funny coincidence. When they didn’t react to me waving, I figured they just didn’t notice. I had to pull into a right turn lane, and they zoomed past us. I started to lean out and yell as they went by, when I saw the license plate. It was a Nevada plate. Jared’s car has Washington State plates, and they’re custom plates, at that…

But the two guys (who were, admittedly, both wearing sunglasses) in the car looked so much like Jared and Sky, I was still not completely certain it wasn’t them. Until I talked to them later and confirmed that the route they had taken had not been on the road where I’d seen these guys.

In the years since, about two or three times a year, I see that same Mini Cooper with the Nevada plates being driven by a guy who looks so much like Jared, that when I see him in the rearview mirror, or in the next lane, et cetera, the facial recognition circuits in my brain sound the alert: “Friend! Over there! Look!”

It’s compounded by the fact that another friend (and former co-worker), also owns an identically colored Mini Cooper. So whenever I see the car out of my peripheral vision, I turn and look even before I see the driver who looks a lot like Jared.

I only see this doppelgänger in the vicinity of my home neighborhood in Seattle, so I assume he lives somewhat nearby. This many years of driving a car around here with out-of-state plates, I deduce that he lives only part-time in our state. Since there are a couple of universities nearby, I have speculated that he was a college student. Though it’s been enough years, now, that I’m beginning to question that explanation.

I’ve never, that I know of, seen him outside the car—usually I’m also in my own car. He’s often wearing sunglasses when I see him, which obscures part of his face. And often I only see him in my rearview mirror, sometimes never any closer than several car lengths behind me. So he may not look nearly as much like Jared as I think.

Many years ago, when I worked in a different office building downtown, I was standing at a corner waiting for the crossing light to change one morning when someone hit me in the behind with a briefcase. It wasn’t an inadvertent tap. It was clearly an intentional hit. Accompanied by a cheerful, “Hey!” in a voice I didn’t recognize. I turned, startled, to see a guy in a suit and tie with a big grin on his face. The grin transformed swiftly into a shocked and embarrassed frown, and the guy said, “Oh! Sorry! I thought you were someone else. Sorry!”

I probably had a much angrier expression on my face than I realized when I first turned around. I said, ‘No problem. You surprised me.”

The guy repeated, “Sorry,” several times until the light changed to cross. He didn’t cross with me, though I think he was headed that way.

While I didn’t recognize him, during the several years that my office was in that neighborhood, I would frequently be greeted by people I didn’t know at all. I tried to just smile and be friendly back. Almost every time that we were close enough that they could hear my reply, “Hello,” the person immediately got a surprised look on their face.

Clearly, I had a doppelgänger of my own who worked in that neighborhood. We looked enough alike to fool people on a cursory visual inspection, but I assume had very different voices.

I was reminded of all of this because when we were at the conventions last weekend, once when I was out walking with Jared, someone who drove past us honked her horn, looked right at Jared, and waved enthusiastically. He said he recognized neither the driver nor the car. Apparently a couple of days later, when he was back home, a similar incident happened.

And then a couple nights ago, as I was walking the last few blocks to our house after work, the familiarly-colored Mini Cooper went past me, driven by the Jared doppelgänger I have seen many times before.

Wouldn’t it be cool if this doppelgänger was the person that one of those folks who waved at Jared earlier this week thought they were greeting?

2 thoughts on “Doppelgängers

  1. I have enough doppelgangers that people have been offended that I didn’t respond to their friendly greetings… when I was not there. My brother once nearly pounced a stranger at a rock concert, believing it to be me, and the only thing that stopped him was the thought, “Wouldn’t she have told me she’d be here?” I’ve seen “myself” in the news, working for the NSF, and in “adult entertainment,” posing for nude pictures. I’ve been told I resemble a Bollywood celebrity. I’ve been stopped by people who were surprised to discover I’m not who they thought I was, and been asked **so** many times if I had been such-and-such a place doing this-and-that, because they definitely knew me from such an event in their lives.

    My favorite was when I met one of my doppelgangers on a bus. We wore our otherwise-identical hair differently (ponytail versus braid) and wore different clothes, though even the styles were similar enough that nothing one wore would look outlandish in the other’s wardrobe. We just silently regarded our unexpected mirrors until she got off on her stop, which was one before mine.

    I wonder whether any of my doppelgangers know yours or Jared’s, or whether yours knows his.

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