“Today is Wednesday”


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.