Ordinary looking. That’s a good description of me. In fact, I must be so ordinary looking that I resemble all sorts of other people. I am always being taken for someone I am not.

The other day my wife, Darleen, sent me to the supermarket for a quart of milk. As soon as I started down the first aisle, a woman with fire in her eyes aimed her cart at me and charged up demanding, “Why are the tomatoes green and the lettuce brown?” (Where is the produce man when you need him?)

This sort of thing happens to me all the time. Just last night, as the mâitre d’ was showing me to my table for dinner, a man reached out and asked me for “more coffee and the check, please.”

I have learned to live with my extraordinarily ordinary looks, but once in a while I do get irritated. Recently, I was sitting in an airport lounge waiting for my plane when I noticed a woman studying me carefully. She eventually came over and asked, “You’re a doctor, aren’t you?”

“Why, yes,” I said, “how could you tell?”

“You look like one,” she replied, and quickly proceeded to describe various aches, pains, and physical complaints.

“Wait a minute,” I protested, “I am a doctor of philosophy and theology. You want a physician with a specialty in internal medicine.”

“You fraud,” she exploded, “You’re not a real doctor.”

Of course, there are periodic advantages to being taken for someone else. Recently I accompanied Bethel College’s hockey team on a road trip to Massachusetts. After living away from Boston for more than a decade, I had forgotten the special privileges accorded the clerical collar. I don’t wear one, but with my black scarf covering my bright new Christmas tie, and wearing my usual dark overcoat and fedora, I instantly became “Father.” I was afforded special ...

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