In my next life, I’m going to go by one short name. I’m thinking Joy or Candy (the latter in case in my next life I have to make a living selling chocolate door-to-door. Or stripping.)
Having just gotten off the phone with a customer service rep for my new insurance, I can report to you just how frustrating it is to have a name that doesn’t conform to standards the computerized world expects. For example, I am not supposed to have a first name with a space in it. Computers cannot accept this. They can win at Jeopardy and calculate how much weight you’re going to gain from having just eaten an entire box of mac & cheese, but you throw a blank space into the mix and it freaks them out. They curl up in the fetal position and cry out for their motherboards.
My first name is Leigh Anne. Not first name Leigh, middle name Anne or one long Leighanne or even Leann as the digital world would like to force me to accept. I’ve been Leigh Anne since day one and it’s the only part of my name that hasn’t yet changed numerous times; I’d like to keep it that way. People seem okay with this, once I tell them how to spell it. It’s the machines that balk.
My series of last names is also a problem. I have four of them — the one I started with and three I married into and foolishly took as my own. But when you start out life as a “Grover” and are taunted by “Red rover, red rover, send Grover right over” from 2nd grade, you’ll accept any new name, as long as nothing rhymes with it. Had I met a guy named Quixote, I’d have taken his name in a flash.
It was my last marriage, the one that involved the hyphen that threw a real monkey wrench into the works. The computers in the state of Oregon don’t acknowledge a hyphen, so my driver’s license just runs my last two ex-husband’s last names together. The federal government, however, insists on the hyphen. So any time I have two show two pieces of documentation I’m screwed. Credit card company computers apparently have a letter quota and I exceed it. They often only let me have my first name or three-quarters of the last one. I do appreciate all the extra patting down at the airport, but when it comes to buying things on credit, I get all the frustration with none of the feeling-up.
It costs over $150 to change my last name back to any of the previous versions. I never seem to have a spare $150 on me, so perhaps I should have a fundraiser and set out some jars at local stores and restaurants: “Help Leigh Anne avoid being audited or flagged as a terrorist.” Meanwhile, I’m just going to start calling myself Candy.