After three years, it's still happening.
When I first arrived here in Greencastle in March 2007, it was as the Banner Graphic sports editor. I had one other guy on my sports staff: a short, shaggy-haired, chubby guy with glasses named Caine.
This made me feel right at home because I was (and remain, I suppose) a short, shaggy-haired, chubby guy with glasses named Jared.
We both have brown hair and beards. We both like hats (although our main headgear choices are a bit different). I'd like to believe we're both super-nice dudes.
Beyond that, though, there are some noticeable differences. Caine is a pretty private dude. He doesn't really like talking (and especially not writing) about his personal life unless he knows you.
I, on the other hand, am pretty much an open book. As my columns and blogs will attest, if I can take something from my life and turn it into a piece of writing, I'll do it. Nothing is sacred. Ask my wife about my "Goin' to the Chapel" columns back when I was still at the Fountain County Neighbor.
Additionally, Caine is the quiet type. Once again, with those of us he knows, he will more than hold his own in conversation, but he doesn't just run around looking for someone to talk to.
I'm loud and sometimes overbearing. I don't know a stranger, and if you give me something interesting to discuss, you'll suddenly have a new best friend.
Yet, from the beginning, many people couldn't seem to tell us apart. This was easy enough to account for at first. I was new and Caine had only been on staff for about three months.
Through that first spring season, coaches and others would mix us up, but I figured it would change after everyone got used to us.
It didn't happen so quickly, though. The coaches figured it out, but players and fans would still occasionally utter the wrong name.
I'd like to partly blame this on Caine. One side effect of his quietness is he has been unwilling to correct people when they called him Jared. I, on the other hand, was never afraid to kindly say I wasn't Caine. I figure it's just easier for everyone that way.
Even last night, though, Caine told me some Cloverdale players saw him show up at the game and said, "Hey, Jared's here." When an argument ensued between the kids, one came up to him to settle it.
The funny thing is, Caine and I don't even technically inhabit the same department anymore. He's now the sports editor and I'm the assistant editor. Since November 2008, I've been the main designer on the news side and covered the Greencastle city beat. While I still pick up a number of sporting events, I'm not technically even a sports guy anymore.
And yet, we're still the same person to many.
With that in mind, I thought I might set up a little cheat sheet for anyone who might run into us at games, the grocery store or somewhere on the street. Review these rules, and you should be able to figure it out.
1) If the guy in question is wearing a tie, that's me. I don't always wear one, but Caine never does. I'm pretty sure there are no exceptions to this rule, although I've never been to a wedding or funeral with him. He never wears a tie to church, though.
2) Examine the hat. At an event, either one of us is likely to be wearing a hat. The difference is, mine will usually be a flat cap of mesh or wool. Caine will almost always be in a baseball cap, usually showing his allegiance to either the Boston Red Sox or Minnesota Vikings.
Also, if there's a brim, it's me.
3) If he's wearing shorts and it's under 45 degrees outside, that's Caine. Caine wears shorts to all sporting events, without exception. I think he owns one pair of khakis for church, but no jeans. I wear shorts when it's warm (novel concept).
The only exception to this is swim meets. I don't like wet pant legs or shoes, so I wear shorts and sandals when I'm going to be on a pool deck, no matter the weather.
4) Jared drives the car that looks like a pregnant, green roller skate. No explanation needed.
5) When you address the reporter, are his answers longer than two words? As I said, I'm the much more talkative one. Even during a game, I'll find time for a conversation. I might be taking notes, stats and pictures at the same time, but I'll talk.
It's not that Caine isn't a nice guy; he's just focused. Talk to him before, after or at halftime, and he'll have more to say.
In the end, if none of these work, just address us as the guy you think it is. Most people have it right by now. Even when someone gets it wrong, it's something we can laught about.
I guess we also share a great sense of humor.