Sometimes, it pays dividends to share a name with a celebrity or a fictional character. Remember that Taco Bell advertising campaign featuring guys named Ronald McDonald, for instance? That had to be worth something. Furthermore, having a moniker like “Bill Murray” or “Julia Roberts” on a driver’s license might conceivably get a person out of a speeding ticket someday. But what if an innocent Muggle shared the original name of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? As established in 1998’s Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets, noseless baddie Lord Voldemort’s given name was actually Tom Marvolo Riddle, an anagram of “I Am Lord Voldemort.” (That middle name seems like a bit of a cheat on J.K. Rowling’s part, honestly.) Recently, A.V. Club contributor Zach Schonfeld, who has also reported on the plights faced by hapless civilians named Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift, rounded up seven different Tom Riddles he found on LinkedIn for Newsweek and asked them what it was like to have the same handle as of one recent literature’s most reviled characters.
As it happens, they’re pretty cool with it. These genial fellows, ranging in age from 30 to 61 and all but one from America, mostly report that it’s largely been a “positive” if slightly “spooky” experience being named Tom Riddle. The name carries a bit of vaguely sinister cachet, after all. One even reports being asked for his autograph in Nepal. The Tom Riddles generally report some social media confusion (“When I signed up for Facebook, thy wouldn’t let me use the name.”) and a few incidents in which they inadvertently made children cry. For Tom Riddle of Philadelphia, the experience has caused him to reflect on the alluring nature of evil. “I would much prefer to be the evil one than the other one. It just seems to be more attractive,” he says. “It’s always more fun to be the bad guy than the good guy.” Meanwhile, somewhere in the world, a plumber named Harry Potter is on his eighth drink of the day after realizing that having his phone number changed again did not put a stop to the crank calls. They find him, the little bastards. Somehow, they always find him.