Will the REAL Ken Pascoe … stop stealing my mail.

Ken Pascoe is interfering with my life again. He stuffed me around no end 15 years ago and now, thanks to the limitations of technology, he’s doing it again.

Sorry, Who has my books?

I joined Emirates in 1996. It was about this time that Amazon was founded, which was just as well because a decent read was far and few in Dubai back in 1996. We would regularly order books from Amazon.Com and have them shipped to us in Dubai, via the company postal address. This is one part of the story …

Once settled in Dubai, I also looked into the Internet and decided we had to have it. I went down to the Etisalat office and registered for an account and a modem, to run on our existing phone line, at a rip-roaring 33.6kb. One of the first things they asked me was for a username. What’s a username? They explained it to me. Being the inventive, quirky person I was back then I asked for “pascoe” and found it was taken. This intrigued me, despite the lack of interest the man on the other side of the counter had in this conundrum I was now faced with. In any case, continuing my streak of originality I went with “pascoes” and for the better part of 10 years our e-mail address was pascoes@emirates.net.ae

I did email pascoe@emirates.net.ae – out of curiosity – but it bounced back.

That’s the end of that, I thought.

I was wrong.

Once we began ordering books over the web through Amazon, delivered to us in Dubai via DHL – this was when I first discovered the “other ” Pascoe.

You see it turns out there was another Ken Pascoe in Dubai; and he was the one with “pascoe” at Etisalat. Believe it or not he worked for DHL – in a senior management position – and left Dubai about the time I arrived. Of course we didn’t find this out straight away. No, over the next three years, at completely random intervals, book deliveries – roughly one in three – would go missing. In those days DHL was pretty much the only delivery agent in the area so we had no real choice. Books would go missing – despite signed delivery receipts (not signed by me obviously) – and we’d contact Amazon to find out what had happened. Eventually Amazon would send us a replacement book (something that has endeared Amazon to my wife and I to this day) and chances were good that the replacement book would get through the DHL Pascoe Barrier.

Because what was happening was that when one of these book deliveries would come in to DHL – addressed to “First Officer Ken Pascoe, Emirates Airlines Flight Operations Department, FC97, P.O. Box 92, Dubai, UAE” – and bright spark in DHL would immediately identify it as clearly belonging to the (ex) DHL Dubai Manager Ken Pascoe, who has now gone to run DHL in Belgium. And so my book would be sent off to follow him.

I believe Ken eventually moved from Belgium to Brunei for a few years (something about getting away from the esoteric reading list – everything from breastfeeding to particle physics – that kept rolling up on his doorstep at random intervals) and so some of my books went to him there, by way of Belgium (and Dubai) of course.

We were never really able to defeat this system. It wasn’t until Amazon.co.uk started up, and we began ordering books through them, sent to the crew Hotel in London, where I would collect them on trips – that we were able to reliably establish a book conduit. I am forever beholden to Amazon, for even as we finally managed to discover what was happening (if not actually correct the problem – despite the protestations of innocence of DHL Dubai) – Amazon would keep sending replacement books to me, long before Mr Ken Pascoe of DHL Belgium would send them back to Amazon.Com – labelled something helpful, like “Wrong Address.”

Sorry, Who has my eMail?

Anyway, now it’s happening again.

Some months ago, I received an e-mail sent to my personal address (ken.pascoe@gmail.com – yes, I’m still in my highly imaginative phase), with “Dear Ken” as the salutation – but clearly addressed to someone else. In fact, someone named “Ken Pascoe” who works for DFAT – the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia). I was instantly intrigued (there’s that word again) but also alarmed, as history had taught me that accidental encounters with like named individuals had not helped me much in the past and wasn’t likely to do so in the future either.

In this case however it seemed benign. I did some research, found a contact for my public service doppelgänger and forwarded his mail to him – as well as advising the sender of the mixup. Mr. Ken Pascoe (ken.pascoe@dfat.gov.au) never acknowledged my mail but his correspondent did, and I was thanked for my trouble.

As it turns out, Ken Pascoe is the Consul General at the Australian High Commission in London. So if I’m ever stuck again with a large Starbucks coffee on the wrong side of an ray scanner at Manchester Airport again – I’ll know who to call. But that’s another story …

I now realise that since then I have been occasionally beleaguered by an odd phenomenon. You see I regularly send myself e-mails from my phone and other devices, reminding me of things or referring me to time, events and places on the web that I know I will want to look at properly when I’m not encumbered by a 4 inch screen and a chicken scratch keyboard, running at a snail’s pace through a tapering straw 3g internet connection. Once received I create reminders, calendar entries, contacts and readitlater items through these e-mails. It may take me days or even weeks to get far enough down the collection of crud in my inbox to deal with these, but I get to them eventually.

Well, some of these have gone missing.

Now because what I e-mail myself is typically a pretty low priority item, I wasn’t aware of this for a while. But I realised the scope of the problem this week when my wife rolled up at school for an appointment that I’d made for her while she was off galavanting around Europe for a month (I’ll pay for that remark later …) and updated it when the appointment was changed by e-mailing myself details of the amendment. The e-mail never came through; I forgot about it; and Meg wasted a couple of hours fronting to an appointment that didn’t exist – therefore an accounting had to be made.

So I chased it down.

It turns out that because of that one simple act of kindness – when I now type ken.pascoe@ into my Android smarthphone (both the current one and the previous one); my laptop, my desktop, Meg’s desktop, the three laptops of my kids, my server upstairs at home, several of the PC’s at work (etc, etc) – every now and then instead of @gmail.com completing – I get @dfat.gov.au

I looked through the sent mail in a few of these locations, and in retrospect it’s quite amusing what the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been reviewing over the past months. There’s some fascinating reading, as well as some incredibly boring minutia to go with it. I hope it’s keeping them out of trouble.

At least now that I’m aware of the problem, I can keep my guard up. Of course what I really have to work out is how to get Mr. Pascoe-Dfat out of my address history across a number of devices and databases, other than formatting and re-installing the operating system and office software. There must be an answer somewhere on the internet …