Good guys

Mistaken identity, and rising to the occasion. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

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This is a story from quite a few years ago, now (time flies!). But I love it, and if you haven’t seen it before, you’ll be in for a bit of a treat.

Plus, it has a great, timely moral for today — as long as I don’t twist myself in knots too much trying to tie it all together.

Meet Guy Goma. He’s from Congo, attended university there, immigrated to Britain. In 2006, he had a job interview lined up at the BBC.

He put on a nice shirt and a jacket, sat down in the reception area, waited anxiously for his interview.

An assistant of some kind popped into the room.


Yes, my name is Guy.

We’re in a hurry. Come with me.

Guy followed the assistant into another room, where someone told him to sit on a stool. Another person came in and quickly clipped a microphone to his jacket.

The environment made zero sense to Goma. He grinned and looked around nervously, took a deep breath. He was clearly in a TV studio.

Then: Lights, camera, action. A journalist named Karen Bowerman started talking, explaining the then-brand new verdict in the case of Apple Corps vs. Apple Computer.

“So what does this all mean for the industry, and the growth of the industry online?” Bowerman asked — live, on television. “Well, Guy Kewney is the editor of the technology website Newswireless. Hello, good morning to you.”

At this point, let’s freeze the shot. I’m hoping you clicked the link above and watched the video.

Goma is clearly horrified: the last thing in the world he expected five minutes ago was to be interviewed live on television, nevermind in a case of mistaken identity. It turns out he has the same first name as the intended BBC guest — another guy named Guy, who had been sitting in an adjacent reception area, waiting for his turn to go on the air.

In other words, Guy is a guy named Guy; he just wasn’t the guy named Guy the other guy was looking for.

Anyway, hats off to Goma, who despite having no background whatsoever in Apple Corps vs. Apple Computer, and despite speaking English with a strong French accent, tries to make a go of it in the interview.

As he explained later, he knew there was a huge mix-up, but he didn’t want to cause a scene, or make a tough situation worse.

Actually, here’s the full transcript:

Karen Bowerman: Well, Guy Kewney is editor of the technology website Newswireless. Hello, good morning to you!

Goma: [Look of bemusement, mixed with horror] Good morning.

KB: Were you surprised by this verdict today?

Goma: I am very surprised to see this verdict to come on me, because I was not expecting that. When I came, they told me something else and I am coming. “You got an interview,” that's all. So a big surprise anyway.

KB: A big surprise, yeah, yes.

Goma: Exactly.

KB: With regards to the cost that's involved, do you think now more people will be downloading online?

Goma: Actually, if you can go everywhere you're gonna see lot of people downloading through Internet and the website, everything they want. But I think is much better for development and to improve people what they want, and to get on the easy way, and so faster the things they looking for.

KB: This does really seem to be the way the music industry's progressing now, that people want to go onto the website and download music.

Goma: Exactly. You can go everywhere on the cyber cafe, and you can can go easy. It is going to be an easy way for everyone to get something through the Internet.

KB: Guy Kewney, thanks very much indeed.

Believe it or not, after all this, Goma still had his job interview. And double believe it or not, after treating him like this, the BBC didn’t offer him a job.

(Although, I notice, they’ve gotten 3.4 million views on that ad-supported video on YouTube.)

I spent a little bit of time trying to track down Goma recently, and see what happened to him afterward. He had a brief, 15 minutes of fame in Britain, but after that he pretty much dropped off the map.

I hope he’s well. And I also hope we can take a lesson from his dignity that day in 2006.

Tomorrow, Election Day, something big is going to happen. I’m holding my breath. Truly, I feel as if I have no idea how this is going to turn out.

And I think, collectively, a lot of us are going to be dropped, totally unprepared, into a situation that’s at least thematically not too far from what Guy Goma experienced in 2006.

So, my hope is that a lot of us will be like Guy. Make the best of it, fake it through, and try not to exacerbate the situation for anyone else.

Today and tomorrow: that’s it for of Election 2020! Or more accurately, probably: Act I of Election 2020.

As of Sunday evening when I put this to bed, 93,131,017 Americans had already cast their ballots. Texas is already at 107.8% of its total 2016 vote. Other key states: North Carolina (95% of total 2016 vote), Georgia (93.7%), Nevada (91.2%), Florida (90.8%), and Pennsylvania (38.4%).

7 other things worth your time

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