Mistaken Identity

We don't always like to admit it, but a lot of people have trouble distinguishing the features of people from other cultures.  It is easy for us to think that all "--------" look alike - you fill in the blank - it depends on where you are from as to what people you group together.  The funny thing, though, is that we never think people from our own culture "all look alike" and can even be shocked that anyone could think that of "us."

I don't think anyone ever mixed me up with another woman in Nairobi, but it happened to Tom a few times.  He started coming home, voicing concern that his memory was lapsing or that he just wasn't a very good listener when men at church were seeking help with something in their lives.  This happened several times before he finally figured out what was happening.

Tom and Alcides deMorais were both about the same height, both were blonde and at one time they both had beards.  Now, I would never mistake one for the other.  Their builds are quite different, hair styles were very different, face shapes were different, plus Alicides had a strong Brazilian accent.  They don't sound anything alike when they talk. There are some similarities, but in my mind it would be very easy to tell them apart.

Every once in a while, however, someone at church would have a rather deep, personal conversation with Alcides and then the next week would walk up to Tom and thank him for the help and advice he had given them.  They would go into detail about how it had helped, how they had put something from the Bible into practice and how it was changing their marriage or job, etc.  You can understand Tom's confusion and concern.  It is easy to not remember an off-hand conversation, but these were very particular and sometimes deeply personal conversations.  It finally dawned on Tom what was happening.  The person was mistaking him for Alcides!  What followed was another dilemma...should Tom tell the person they had the wrong guy or just shake his head and encourage the person to keep growing? 

(Alcides, pictured with his beautiful wife, Leslie!)

The funniest case of mistaken identity with Tom in Nairobi, though, was when someone mixed up him and Mike Taliaferro.  While Tom and Alcides were an understandable mix-up, there is nothing similar between Mike and Tom' looks except the color of their skin.  Mike is a lot taller than Tom.  Mike has dark hair.  Mike has brown eyes and Tom has blue eyes.  And I don't remember Mike having a beard in Nairobi.  I have to admit that we had a good chuckle when that happened!

Lori Ziegler2 Comments