A woman named Anna took ownership of her baby's name and passive-aggressively joked for her coworkers not to steal it.
But when one of her colleagues joked about stealing the very common name, it backfired.
After realizing she offended Anna, Redditor Groundbreaking-Mouse—the woman who made the joke—shared the workplace conversation on Reddit's Am the A$hole thread and asked if she was the a$hole for sarcastically telling Anna she was going to make a baby and steal the coveted name.
The original poster (OP) began the thread by acknowledging the banter as "the dumbest argument" and "definitely the most absurd work conversation."
"I have a friend, 'Julie,' who has just come back from maternity leave. She and I work on neighboring desks, and the setup is that the longest part of our desks are against each other in a way that leaves us effectively sitting on opposite sides of one large desk."
"We were on lunch break, eating at our desks, and Julie asks me about when my husband and I are planning on having kids."
"I reply 'it's in the works, hopefully within the next year. Definitely sooner rather than later.'"
Introducing Anna, the shunned coworker who had eavesdropped on the conversation.
"Then another coworker, who sits on the next set of desks over, hears us talking. Her name is 'Anna' and I'll admit that Julie and I don't really like her, and try and avoid conversations with her in general."
"Anna interrupts us and says 'Hubby and I are working on having a baby right now.'"
"Julie says 'that's lovely.'"
"Anna then says something about hardly being able to wait for baby 'Joseph.'"
"I say 'that's a lovely name, my father is called Joseph.'"
"Anna then says in a light tone, but there's clearly some venom to it, 'don't you go stealing my name now' and laughs."
"I'm a bit taken aback by this, tbh. I'm not offended but it's just a bit like '... ohhhkay, never mentioned it but... sure', and it's really confusing to me because I know about a dozen Josephs, it's not exactly a unique name or something anyone could 'steal.'"
Maybe Anna doesn't have social graces.
Maybe she realized she shouldn't have let the secret baby name slip.
Regardless of the reason for her paranoia, she was not finished with the conversation.
"Julie tries to change the subject, but there's 2 more occasions during the rest of the work day where Anna just sort of says something to me about not 'stealing her name,' both times in the same jokey but menacing tone. At this stage she's getting on my nerves."
"And then Anna says right as we're leaving 'promise me you'll wait until after me so I get Joseph,' and as she says it she laughs like it's a really funny joke."
"Julie and I give each other a look that says we really do not get this joke and I realize that she's said I should wait until after she gets pregnant for me to get pregnant in case I 'steal' the name Joseph."
Later, all three coworkers found themselves taking the elevator where everything headed south very quickly.
"We all head off, the three of us end up in the lift together, and Julie asks about my plans for tonight. I say, totally deadpan, 'going to make a baby. The name Joseph is so rare I'm worried someone is going to steal it if I'm not quick enough' and Julie and I both burst out laughing.
"Anna is really really offended. Cannot stress enough how livid she was after hearing me say that. Julie and I both think it's really funny but I told my sister and she says that while it was funny, I was kind of a b***h about the whole thing."
"I am now doubting how funny it actually was."
"Am I [The A$hole]?"
The floor was open for discussion.
"[Not The A$hole (NTA) - so Anna can make jokes but you cannot? She needs to lighten up." – only1warthatmatters
What's in a "common" name?
"Joseph is a very common name. It's not as if Anna came up with some super unique name all on her own for the purpose of being unique and OP was like 'that's a great name...I'M GONNA USE IT! MUAHAHAHAAA!!!'"
"The only way I could see both using the name POSSIBLY being an issue is if both people named their kids Joseph and they were incredibly close where the kids would grow up together. Even then I don't see the huge deal." – mommak2011
"It'd be one thing if it were something original, like LORDIZIOUS-REX or, MEGAMANFLEX"
"But JOSEPH is one of the most common and oldest names on the f*****g planet. Its in the f*****g bible. Its one of the least original names every conceived for a child since at least....4000 BC or some s**t like that ffs." – felixjawesome
Relatives with the same name can pose minor issues, but not among kids of coworkers.
"The whole 'don't steal my name' thing is relatively new, because up till recently a way higher percentage of people had the top 10 names . . . but in the last decades parents have been more focused on wanting a unique name for their kid, so percentage of kids being named any one thing dropped a lot."
"Like, it wasn't even an issue before if there were multiple Elizabeths in a family, you'd usually have one be Liz, one Beth etc. I've also noticed people more often preferring the full form of their name and hating nicknames - wonder if that's related."
"I cannot imagine why the hell it would matter if two coworkers had kids with the same name." – themoogleknight
If only Anna had kept her mouth shut.
"If she's so obsessed with claiming the name maybe don't go around telling everyone the name you have in mind ? Jokes or not, it's really that simple." – GemIsAHologram
The OP updated her post with a backstory about how she found Anna to be annoying.
"Backstory because people are asking:"
"Anna was fine when she first started working here a couple years ago, but she was a little too 'by the book' and got a bit email-happy with HR early on, and would send emails roughly weekly, CCing in whoever it was about, reporting Coworker X for saying she was going to vote on her way home (not allowed to talk about politics) and Coworker Y saying he was going to his niece's confirmation (not allowed to talk about religion) and stuff like that."
"We all just collectively stopped talking to her so she no longer had ammo for HR. She eased up around the 3 or 4 month mark when she realized it was making her pretty unpopular, but people were still cautious around her."
"Me, Julie, Anna and a couple other guys who work in different parts of the office are the only people still here who were here for that, and we're still cautious around her even though she hasn't emailed HR in a while. Anna has previously tried to befriend us and she's apologized for her actions in the past, but we still aren't her biggest fans."
"Anna's desk has the same set up as ours but she doesn't have a desk-mate because hers retired a few months ago and they haven't replaced her yet, and since then Anna has been trying to talk to us over lunch or while we're working."
"We've tried to keep it professional, asking if she has a certain form or if she got my (work related) email, or stuff like that, but she wants to talk about outside of work and generally get to know us. We're cautious about this because of what happened when she started working here."
"Also I know I could have said 'I'm not naming my child Joseph' and been done with it but first off I'm not going to promise not to use it for the sake of a coworker I don't get on with and also it is in the running, as a middle name, along with a few other options, in the 50% possibility that I get pregnant with a boy."
The takeaway here is, keep your secret baby name to yourself and hope no one "steals" it.
Or you could find a truly unique name in the book Baby Names 2020: This Year's Best Baby Names: State to State available here.