ESPN recently prevented broadcaster Robert Lee from calling a University of Virginia football game in Charlottesville, creating a media frenzy. Did the network think people would confuse the Asian-American broadcaster with Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who died in 1870? ESPN released a statement that Lee’s assignment might “create a distraction.” It sure prevented that!
But Lee isn’t the only one blocked from a job because of his name. I’ve uncovered correspondence sent to several job applicants:
Dear Lee Oswald:
Thanks for applying with McDonald’s. Although you are 20, we fear people might confuse you with JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, which would reflect badly on our family-friendly image. Perhaps if you change your name to Oswald Lee, we would reconsider. Oops, forget that — we stopped hiring anyone with the last name Lee, too.
Dear Elizabeth Borden:
Thanks for applying with the Golden Years Senior Living. Although your credentials are impeccable, we are sure you are familiar with the ditty “Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother 40 whacks.” We don’t want to traumatize patients or their families, so we’re going to take a pass. Have you considered women’s wrestling?
Dear James Lebron:
Thanks for applying for a job with Vandelay Industries. Since we list employees in our corporate directory last name first, we fear people will think we hired LeBron James. We are not equipped to handle a flood of requests for autograph sessions and personal appearances. Best of luck!
Dear Shirley Katz:
Thanks for your Chelsea Pet Shop job application. Unfortunately, your last name might lead to accusations that we are showing favoritism to certain species, and we don’t want to rub the dogs’ noses in it. Thanks for understanding!
Dear Ronald Burgundy:
Thank you for applying for a position with ESPN. Although your resume is impressive, we fear viewers might confuse you with the idiotic Ron Burgundy character played by Will Ferrell. We wouldn’t want people to see us as ridiculous!
BTW, ESPN has just switched Lee to another broadcast. He will call a game under his new, network-assigned name: Abraham Lincoln.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.