A Case of Mistaken Identity

May 01, 2019

Hi Folks,

Matthew Buttler here, and I want to tell you about three people in my life that I’ve never met, but have something in common with.

For a few years, I’d gotten annual emails from the government of the United Kingdom asking me to pay my car tax. I don’t own a car, so I certainly won’t pay tax on it. I figured the mistake was easy enough, some guy in the UK with my name and a very similar email address to my own owed someone some money.

Thinking nothing of it, I ignored the email, and carried on with my life.

The following year I got another email from the same government body asking me to, again, pay my car tax. This time I emailed the government back, and between six and ten weeks later, they emailed me a response saying, “Oh, we have the wrong guy. I guess you’re not the Matthew Butler” we’re looking for.

The second guy in my life that I’ve never met and I have two things in common. Well, had two things in common I guess.

So I’m working my contract at Adobe back in 2015 when a man approached me from behind, and said “You’re not Matthew Butler

I turned slowly in my chair to be confronted by a tall man wearing a suit, and a pair of rabbit ears that swayed towards the front of his head curiously with a small mechanical whizzing noise.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You’re not Matthew Butler.”

His rabbit ears went straight up.

“I am.”

“No you’re not, Matthew Butler hired me, and you’re certainly not him.”

His rabbit ears were pointing directly at me.

“I suppose not. I can’t hire anyone.”

“So you’re not him?”

His rabbit ears swayed to the left at this question.

“No, it’s just a coincidence.”


His rabbit ears moved to the right, as he said “All right then.”

I’m at YYC, which for those who aren’t hip to airport codes, is the code for Calgary, Alberta.

My passport was about 6 months from expiry, so I had to go talk to a CBSA/DHS agent about my intentions on going to the United States.

“Where are you going?”

“Portland, Oregon.”


“Pleasure? I’m going to a conference.”

“You know that your passport expires before you’re required to leave the country, right?”

“Yes, I meant to get it renewed.”

“Have you ever been arrested?”


“Are you sure?”


“Have you ever been sat in the back of a cop car?”


“Are you sure?”


“Have you ever been arrested?”


“Are you sure?”


The guy picks up the phone and says a few words. I’m being lead back into ‘secondary detainment’, with all my stuff, which means it probably wasn’t too serious, but at the time I’m thinking it’s very serious.

I get called up to the DHS counter.

“Can we see your passport, boarding pass, and another piece of ID?”

I comply. There are a couple of men behind the counter in very serious looking uniforms. and we do the rigmarole song and dance of “Have you ever been arrested”, “Not even once?” “Where were you born”, etc etc., a few more times, and me, being me, realize that it’s probably okay to kind of joke with these guys a little bit, but in the good humoured “I’m just a humours guy who is in a situation making him kind of nervous,” kind of way, not in the “I am a serious criminal” kind of way.

“Do you have any scars?”

“Yes sir,” and I hold up my very obviously scarred and plated right arm, “I have five screws and a plate in my arm.”

“How’d you do that,” says the heretofore silent DHS agent.

“I fell on some ice getting coffee for my wife,” I say.

“Go on.”

So I tell them the story of how I broke my arm, and there’s a chuckle.

“Hey,” says DHS 1, “You made him laugh. He never laughs. Okay look, here’s the problem. Your name is Matthew Buttler and that’s close enough to Matthew Butler, who has been known to spell his last name with one or two Ts, right? The problem is that he’s a criminal, and you’re probably not, but that’s why we’re having trouble admitting you to the United States today. So I’m going to go over to Calgary PD, and see what else we can find to prove that you’re you, and not him.”

DHS 2 is joined by DHS 3, as DHS 1 disappears behind a door, and I’m sent over to the plexiglass holding area where they hold all of the Matthew Buttlers, I guess.

DHS 1 comes back, and beckons me over.

“Do you have any tattoos?”


“None on your uh… chest?” He waves at his chest.

“Certainly no,” I start to lift up my shirt.


DHS 1 and DHS 2 pull me 30 feet to my left into a small interrogation room while DHS 3 looks over from behind the desk.


Boom, shirt’s off, no tattoo on my chest.

DHS 1: “Great.”

DHS 2: “You can go.”

Me: “What’s the tattoo of?”

DHS 1: “We can’t tell you.”

DHS 2: “Privacy reasons.”

Me: “Is it of a skull, or a cross-hairs that says ‘I KILL PEOPLE’“?

DHS 1: “No. Exit to your left…”

As I’m walking out getting my passport back from DHS 2, DHS 3 asks, “What’s the tattoo of?”

DHS 1 whispers into DHS 3’s ear, and he laughs.

Matthew Buttler

Matthew Buttler lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He seeks skill advancement and thrill enhancement. You can find him on Twitter