I'm currently looking for a new flatmate since one of my current co-habiters has got herself a new job in London. To try and fill the space I placed an ad, and sure enough someone called the house. The thing is, no-one I know phones the landline and the phone rang just after 7pm - prime telesales time, so it was with great suspicion I picked up the phone
....(long pause then) Caller (in foreign accent): Hello, can I speak to Paul please?
Of course, the long pause and foreign accent had resulted in my brain assuming it was a marketing call.
Me: No, he's out, can I take a message? (usually fobs them off)
Caller: Uhhh... no. It's ok, it's about the house, do you know when he'll be back?
At this point I wasn't really listening, but all of a sudden it dawned on me, pretty much mid-sentence that they might be calling about the room...
Me: Uhhh.. he should be back in about half an hour.
Caller: Ok. (hangs up)
Hmmm... I then realise that she's going to call back in 30 minutes and she's going to hear my voice again, so how am I going to get out of this one?! Well actually, I cheat - I don't answer when the phone goes again - I check the number is the same as the first time - it's a mobile, so I then send her a text the next day to explain! A pretty good save I think!
Is it wrong to Google people?
So I get an e-mail from her where she asks for some more questions and her e-mail address is something weird, but it looks like a nickname or a username of some kind. So, just on the off chance, I whack it into Google and lo and behold, there are about 3 hits for the same user name from a university noticeboard where they had placed posts. I'm pretty sure it's the same person.
This raises a few things:
Firstly, I feel slightly guilty about doing this - is it an invasion of privacy to Google someone?
Secondly, although it's good to have a unique username, it can be too unique!
Also, it's amazing what can actually be found, a seemingly innocuos post has effectively been logged and a simple search with Google can uncover it. It makes you wonder what other information about you is floating around on the web.
In a way, I'm lucky, both my name and my username are pretty common really and I have some well-known namesakes as well, all of which means it's hard to find out stuff just from Googling me.