I was working in Japan for a few years and Jan flew out to visit me. One morning, I took Jan along to work, and while some of the people there knew I was a twin, most didn’t. To the Japanese, all “Westerners” look the same – much like the reverse – but people were still very surprised to see two copies standing there. Even better, Jan was wearing my company ID badge and he was introducing me as the visitor, and they didn’t catch on.
Inevitably, someone asked if we had ever done pranks and we started explaining that we used to share one job and nobody knew, so because today is Tuesday it would be Jan working today and I get the day off.
“But it’s Wednesday,” somebody said.
Jan quickly improvised and said “Great! Here’s the badge and that’s your desk” and then he left! (Of course he left; he was heading out for sightseeing after this short office visit anyway. But now he was improvising off of the “Wednesday” cue.)
The coworkers and managers stared at me while I tried my best to look a little forlorn, shrugged, and sat down to start the day’s work. Inside, I was trying really hard not to laugh.
The poor Japanese were seriously worried that Torben just left Jan to do Torben’s work, and I played along on their mistake. They got increasingly exasperated and after several minutes I burst the bubble.
For several weeks after that, my Japanese boss repeatedly asked which one I was.
Some times, people just don’t get it, as the previous story shows. This one is from the same TV production company, when my brother came to my work to pick me up.
I was sitting in a sofa in an editing suite, casually chatting to my boss and another guy. Søren, my boss, was talking to me as Torben arrived, so Torben simply stood in the doorway, giving me a quick wave.
Eventually Søren noticed Torben in the doorway and continued his conversation with him, oblivious of his mid-sentence switch. Some seconds passed, and he turned back to me, still talking.
After switching back and forth way too many times (was he even thinking?) Søren suddenly stopped mid-sentence while his eyes jumped from me to Torben and back again several times.
We burst out laughing and I introduced Torben to Søren. From this point on it took us about a minute to make him understand that we were two persons. For the rest of the month, every time he saw me he either turned and walked away or came to ask me if I was really me.
Speaking of clones, some people feel downright uncomfortable by the mere presence of us. I had a colleague with whom I usually got along fine, but she seemed unable to mentally process the fact that twins can exist. When she met both Jan and me at the same time, she literally ran away because the concept of twins scared her to pieces. She told me it was “extremely spooky” to see him twice at once. That happened every time she encountered both of us, but never when she saw just me.
Sometimes, Jan picks me up from work when we have made plans together for the evening. This was one of those times, and around noon we made plans on the phone that Jan would pick me up sometime around 16:30, plus/minus half an hour. This is when the front desk of the company closes, so as the time neared, I thought to call Connie, the receptionist, to tell her that Jan would probably be in soon. I thought it would be a good idea to prepare her for the imminent double vision. I called the reception desk, and I heard her pick up. Her phone shows that it was me calling her but she didn’t speak. Strange. “Hello? Connie?” I could hear she was there but she still didn’t speak. This was odd. I hung up and walked out to the reception area. I saw Connie frozen, still on the phone (with me) and looking at Jan who was was smiling and waving outside the (still closed) glass door, waiting for Connie to push the button that opens it. Apparently I had called her just when Jan rang the bell, and her mind had imploded because of the impossibility. I opened the door for Jan and we both walked over to Connie to introduce him. “Flabbergasted” is probably the most appropriate word here.
She couldn’t grasp how I could be calling her from my desk while at the same time ringing the doorbell from outside the office. Seeing us both, she commented that we were mean and that we had planned this, even though we hadn’t. On the phone we had planned somewhere within half an hour, but not to the exact second!
The next day, the office assistant sternly told me off for being so mean, and I could not convince her that we didn’t plan to trick her with such amazing timing. Still, she never forgave me… but these things just happen.