Monday, February 12, 2024

I recently had an awkward interaction that reminded of another awkward interaction

This is the very gracious Gregory L. King, President of the University of Mount Union. Or just "Greg" to those of us who are clueless and don't know who he is.

Last month I had the privilege of speaking to business students at the University of Mount Union about my career in corporate communications. I was one of several presenters representing a variety of business disciplines, and we spent the minutes before the start of the program mingling with students, faculty and each other.

At one point, a friendly guy walked up to me, looked at my name tag and said, "Hi Scott, Greg King." We shook hands and made small talk for a few minutes before I asked him what his role was at the school.

"I'm the president," he said very matter-of-factly.

Oh. The president of the university. And I had no idea who he was. Had I known his identity, I'm sure I would have called him "Mr. King" rather than "Greg." And I certainly would have been more deferential than I was.

He was clearly an unpretentious person, though, and dismissed my apology with a wave of his hand.

"No worries, I should have been wearing a name tag!" he laughed.

I have a knack for making these sorts of conversational gaffes, and I'm always grateful to be bailed out by others who  like me, I hope  will talk to anyone at any time about anything and don't take themselves at all seriously.

I was reliving the interaction on my drive home when another famous Scott mistake came to mind.

I think I've related here before how Terry and I have come to be friends with jazz saxophonist Dave Koz. Dave is one of the friendliest (and most talented) people you'll ever meet, and his annual Christmas shows are in the "must see" category for us when he comes to Cleveland.

One of the perks of knowing Dave is that his wonderful assistant, Janice, will unhesitatingly leave us two backstage passes so we can say hello to Dave and his band whenever they come to Playhouse Square.

During one of these post-show meet-and-greets several years ago, I made a point of seeking out Dave's longtime musical director and keyboardist Brian Simpson to tell him how much I enjoyed his musicianship and his arrangements of Dave's songs.

I saw him walking down a backstage corridor and called after him. Only I somehow misremembered his first name, and instead of calling "Brian!" I yelled, "Bill! Bill!"

He of course didn't turn around. Why would he? His name isn't Bill.

It took me a few minutes to realize this. I think I eventually tracked him down, but the damage had been done and I was pretty embarrassed.

This is Brian Simpson. "Brian," mind you, not "Bill."

As with Mr. King, I was reliving (and regretting) what had happened on the car ride home. Terry looked over at me at one point and saw I was making a sour face.

"Are you remembering when you called him Bill instead of Brian?" she asked me.

"Yes," I replied through gritted teeth.

Every once in a while, one of us will yell "Bill! Bill!" Usually for no reason at all.

It still makes me wince.


  1. What a fun story! Thanks for sharing, Bill! (Hahaha) ... Message from Fred.