The downside of being a Smith

Published 12:16 pm Saturday, September 5, 2009

Have you ever noticed how I always utilize my middle initial on all my bylines and photo credits?

Not that you asked, but the initial stands for Daniel, not Dork or Dufus or – as my dad frequently called me growing up – Dough Head or any other derogatory term that begins with the letter. While most, if not all are applicable, Daniel is the name actually represented.

Nonetheless, I make it a point to use this ‘D’ for a reason. Simply put, “Jeremy Smith” is a common name.

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According to the Web site, there are 3,289 people in the United States named Jeremy Smith. That is slightly alarming as three years ago there were 3,666 people with that name. We have apparently hit hard times over the last few calendar passings.

While I do love useless information, I took the time to look this up for a reason.

When I was in college, I applied for a job at Wal-Mart. It seemed logical at the time. I did well on the “test” and in the interview. All that was left for the retail monster to do was wait for my background check and I would have been gainfully employed. So I waited. And, I waited. And, then I waited some more. Finally, I received notification that there were alarming incidents on my background check.

So I found out the name of the company that did the check and requested a copy of the report. What I found out upon receiving the information was that while I was enrolled in college in Alabama and applying for a job at Wal-Mart, I was also currently in prison in Indiana for drug trafficking.

This was good to know as I previously had no idea of my whereabouts at the time.

While I was renowned for always having Tylenol when my roommates needed it, I was also apparently quite adept at moving narcotics from one location to another.

Anyway, not only was I in prison for trafficking in a state to which I had never been, I was also a 5-foot-7 African American. That was the second newsflash in as many minutes.

What this exceptionally thorough company managed to do was turn in a background report on Jeremy Smith without checking the middle name, birthdate or social security number.

As such, I was failed to get my job at Wal-Mart. The story ends well as my quest for employment landed me a gig covering college basketball games for my college. From that, a career was borne. So you have only Wal-Mart’s background check company to blame for the presence of this column in your weekend paper.

Since that time, the ‘D’ has been utilized and the need to keep abreast as to what is on credit and background reports has become ever impressive.

According to one such report, I apparently purchased a car that I never made a payment on in 1999 at the tender age of 17.

But the lesson is simple. Keeping up with your background checks is a good idea. And naming your child Jeremy Smith or anything else terribly common is apparently a bad one. Go with something like Shamgar as there are absolutely none of them in the United States. Besides, if he ends up in prison in Indiana for drug trafficking, who is going to mess with a dude named Shamgar?