I’m Old, Part XLIII: Steve, Steve, Steve

I started at Adobe in Mountain View, California in 1990, fresh out of college. It was a novel experience on many levels. I grew up in New Jersey in a nice little suburban community in a house that bordered on old woods that were slightly swampy. I had become accustomed to the flora and fauna of New Jersey and Silicon Valley was something completely different. The sky was the wrong color blue; the leaves on the trees were the wrong shade of green; there was relatively little humidity.

At that time, Adobe moved me and my then wife across the country and put us up in temporary corporate housing while I got started at the company and my wife looked for permanent housing. On the first day during orientation, we were told by HR that if you were married and your spouse was a woman, she would be sent a bouquet of roses and if your spouse was a man, he would be sent a bottle of champagne. How nice!

The roses never showed up. Weird.

We got daily copies of the San Jose Mercury News, as a tool for looking for apartments and keeping up with current events. I saw a headline in the paper, “ASTRONAUT STEVE HAWLEY TO JOIN NASA AMES”. I thought it was funny, so I cut it out and put it up in my cube.

Then we started noticing that mail we should have gotten never arrived. We’d ask at the main office at the housing and there was nothing. We knew it was supposed to have arrived. After poking around and asking questions, we finally put two and two together. Our mail (and the roses) had gone to a Steve Hawley. Just not me.

Eventually, we settled on a place in Morgan Hill, which was a brutal commute, but it was about all we could afford that wasn’t in an iffy neighborhood. We set up forwarding for mail from the corporate housing and settled in. After a week, I got an ATM card and PIN addressed to Steven W. Hawley from an unfamiliar bank. I brought them in to work and called up NASA Ames and had the switchboard connect me to his office, where I spoke with his assistant. Here was our conversation:

“Steve Hawley’s office.”

“Hi, I’d like to speak to Steve Hawley please.”

“Who may I say is calling?”

“Steve Hawley”

“No, to whom am I speaking.”

“Really. Steve Hawley. And I would like to speak to your Steve Hawley.”

“May I ask why?”

“Sure, I have your Steve Hawley’s ATM card and PIN and while I wouldn’t mind drawing from an astronaut’s salary, I figure that he would want it back.”


“Yup. It’s says here ‘Steven W. Hawley’. I’m not W.”

“Oh. That’s not him.”


“My Steve Hawley is Steve A. Hawley not W.”

“Huh. OK. Thanks for your time.”

If I got through to him, I would also have given him an earful about Sally Ride because when they got married, I had gotten a fair amount of ribbing about it because of our names.

Ultimately, I sent everything back to the bank, but I had never expected that there would be 3 Steve Hawleys (fortunately each with different middle initials) who all moved to Silicon valley in the span of a month.

Go figure.

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