Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Attack of the Bizarro Irb

I have an evil twin.

Okay, maybe "twin" isn't quite the right word. My wicked doppelganger and I don't really look that much alike. For one thing, he's several years younger than me. Also, he's black.

But his name is Christopher R. Irby, and he apparently lives somewhere in the Dallas area. And, just in case I haven't mentioned it in the past sentence or two, he's evil. EEEEEEVIL!!!!!!!!!!

It all started back in 1993, when I moved into my first apartment in Dallas. I'd only been there a month when I got a letter from the Dallas Probation & Parole Office addressed to Chris Irby. The letter informed me that I had missed several scheduled meetings, that the phone number I'd given them was invalid, and that I was in direct violation of my probation. If I didn't contact their office within 48 hours, a warrant would be issued for my arrest.

I didn't have a phone at the time, so I went across the street to Jack in the Box to use the pay phone there. I called the number and explained to them that I'd never been arrested for anything and I'd never been on probation. After a few minutes, they finally told me that they'd been trying to track down a Christopher Irby, and when my change of address had gone through, they had assumed that I was their guy. They were very polite, and they apologized for the mistake. They told me that if I received any further notices, I could disregard them.

In 1997, the same day that George W. Bush was reelected governor of Texas, my apartment was burglarized. (I'm not implying one had anything to do with the other, you understand. I'm just saying.) Anyway, having had enough of inner city living, I decided to move out to the suburbs. I was working for Brinker International at the time, and was making more than enough money to live in a less unsavory neighborhood. Once again, I filled out the proper change of address information. And, once again, I received a notice from the Dallas Probation & Parole Office. And although they'd told me I could disregard it, I called anyway, just to be safe. They apologized and told me they'd make a note of it.

It was about a year later that I finally got a look at the vicious felon who was besmirching my good name. My friends Scott, Eric, and I were playing around on Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's Internet at work, looking up property values for people we knew in Plano. (No reason for it... we were just bored.) Mike discovered the link to the Plano Registered Sexual Offenders page, and clicked on it. As a joke, he did a search on his name and pretended to be relieved that there were no hits. (I assume he was pretending.) We searched for Scott and Eric as well, with no results. But then they typed in my name, and got a hit. Christopher Irby.

I can't remember what his specific crime was, or if they even listed it. Fortunately, there was a picture of him there, so I didn't have to convince anybody that I wasn't leading some kind of crazy Marv Albert/Bill O'Reilly double life.

For the next few years, I heard nothing about my evil twin. But in 2002, just a month after I had left Brinker and set out to be a Writer™, I got a voice mail from some company that leases credit card verification equipment. The woman who left the message sounded rather agitated, and was threatening legal action if I didn't call her back immediately.

I called her, and she was very, VERY belligerent. She told me that I owed several thousand dollars in back charges, and if I didn't return the equipment to them, they'd tack another $10,000 to the total. I told her I had no idea what the hell she was talking about, and that I'd never leased any equipment from them.

She asked, "Is this Christopher Irby?"

I said, "This is James Christopher Irby."

"Is this the Christopher Irby who owns Cleaning Solutions?"

"I have no idea what Cleaning Solutions is."

"Do you reside in Plano?"

"No, I live in Dallas. I'm not the guy you're looking for."

"There can't be that many Christopher Irbys in the area. You're telling me you don't own Cleaning Solutions?"

"No, I don't own any kind of business."

So she demanded my social security number. I refused to give it to her, since she was the one that had originally called me. I told her she could give me the number she had, and I'd tell her if it was correct or not.

Then she started yelling at me. "I am trying to investigate a case of fraud here! If you really are innocent, you should be trying to help me instead of stonewalling!"

So I started yelling, "I'm not stonewalling anything! You've got the wrong guy!"

She was quiet for a second. Then she said in a particularly vicious voice, "I can't wait until our lawyers get you on that stand." And she hung up.

I was trembling with rage, and not sure what to do next. The first thing that occurred to me was that this was some kind of identity theft, so I went online and checked my credit reports. Nothing unexpected, nothing out of the ordinary. Then, I remembered Christopher R. Irby, who was a registered sexual offender in Plano. I tried to look up his information online, but I couldn't find a listing anywhere.

The next morning, I got another call from the credit place. This woman was much nicer, and was obviously the supervisor of the bitch I'd talked to the day before. She asked me if my name was Christopher Irby, and I told her I was James Christopher Irby. She asked me if the last four digits of my social security number were 3191, and I told her no, they weren't. She apologized profusely for the call I'd received the day before, and she said she'd make a note of it in the file so I wouldn't receive any more calls on the subject. I mentioned to her that there was a Christopher R. Irby who lived in Plano, and that I had received his mail on a couple of occasions. She thanked me, and that was it.

Well, almost. I still get calls on the matter every six months or so. The file gets handed off to somebody else to investigate. And they apparently check for a directory listing of Christopher Irby, and get my name. And saying to themselves, "Wow! I can't believe nobody thought to do this before," they call me and I have to explain to them that I'm not the Christopher Irby they're looking for.

The last call I got was in April of last year. The guy didn't even bother confirming my social security number or anything. I told him he had the wrong guy, and he apologized for bothering me. I haven't heard back, so I'm hoping the issue is resolved.

Every once in a while, I'll do a Google search for "chris irby," just to see if I'm wanted for any brutal murders. So far, I seem to be in the clear. The first three hits are all me, baby. There's also a Chris Irby who works in the Industrial Services Group with Collies Spectrum Cauble, whatever the hell that means. Sometimes, I get hits on a Wingate University football player named Chris Irby. And, at the moment, there is a YouTube video of somebody named Chris Irby who is apparently "riding wheelies on Flat Shoals road."

But my evil twin, for the time being, appears to be lying low. Probably holed up in his dark lair, waiting and plotting my demise...


Professor said...

I bet your Publisher Clearing House winnings went to The Evil One!!!!!!!!

Shelly said...

I used to get all kinds of calls for some "other" (apparently EVIL) Shelly, who was also apparently some kind of bad credit risk...

They staved off until one day, I got a bill from our electric company at the house we had bought a year before, and it had HER NAME ON IT.

Luckily, small town...I called them and fixed it. I think...

Farrago said...

I just looked at the profile photo you have on your blog.

I've been reading the WRONG DAMN CHRIS IRBY all these years!

I'd been wondering when you were going to get to all your tales of adventure and crime and deflorations, but afraid to ask in case it was the wrong forum.

Do you happen to know the REAL Chris Irby's blog address, please?