Friday, January 20, 2012
Published by Rod
Everybody has an issue they must live with.
Some people have strabismus...
Some people have one leg...
Almost anybody have at least one condition they have to learn to live with...
I... I have... sorry to all of you... is difficult to admit it... But I am going to share my terrible problem with all of you. If you suffer hypoglycaemia, bladder control or aspersers’ syndrome, hold on tight to your seat...
two last names!
Reaction of a chipmunk moments after my last name was revealed.
Hispanic cultures use multiple last names as ‘the last name’ to indicate their origins and pay respects to both father and mother. A better explanation (if you are interested on reading it) is here. In Latin-America is extremely common to meet someone with two last names and in very rare cases they even use more family names (grandparents or grand grandparents). Someone even wrote an article about it.
Now, why am I writing about my last names?
Because I would like to recognise the person who had that marvellous idea, he or she should be taken to a podium in front of the thousands of Hispanic descendents living on English, German, French speaking countries... and stone him/her to death!
Who in their right mind thought about prolonging your name until it doesn’t fit on one piece of paper?
To me it wasn’t such a big deal until I came to Australia (in the States is not a big deal because of the increasing number of Hispanic descendents blending in the American culture, and still they struggle with it at first) and it was totally manageable with almost no consequence until today...
Today I was ready to take the knowledge driving test to eventually be able to drive free in Australia... and have proper identification other than my passport, when I get to the RTA (transport and marine services) and an officer calls me by number to inquiry ‘what can I do for you?’
After telling him I had a booking for the knowledge driving test and handover my documents and other papers the guy tells me:
‘Well... everything seems perfect. So you are Rod FatherLastname MotherLastname? Good...
Do you have your passport? Good!
Silly me... asking for everything when I have it all in my hands.
Let me check... let me check... uh! This is interesting.
Why is your last name in here (pointing to the gas bill) with a hyphen in the middle?’
To what I reply kindly ‘the guy at the gas company got confused with the last name and thought the system could find it easier to understand if he used a hyphen to connect both last names.’
He looked at me and said: ‘I am very sorry... but that hyphen changes everything! I could take your last name and consider you are stealing the identity of someone else! ...’ (Yeah right, someone on their right mind will steal a last name with 30-ish characters in it) ‘... So I will need a different document as proof of your address. I am afraid you will have to come back some other day...’
|Secretly, they all went to the same school, then college. |
Super trained on the deadly skills of the bureaucracy!
I stood there... silent for 25 seconds... to what I replied ‘Are you serious???????? One hyphen changes everything???????? Every other document matches everything, every single letter of my name and one hyphen in a piece of paper will force me to come back later to take the test?’
To what he replies ‘do you have any bank statement on you at this moment?’
‘Uhms... I don’t know, let me materialise my Tardis to then go to level five where the archive is to get you the frigging bank statement!’.... Is what I thought... But my real answer was ‘I have the electricity bill right here (I think)... but it has written my name as Roderiko and if you complained about a hyphen I don’t want to imagine about Roderiko.’
He turned around and handed me over a piece of paper while telling me ‘that is your new appointment, come back on Thursday with a document or reference properly spelled. I am very sorry, but the last name on your gas bill is totally different to the one on your passport.... Bye.’
Seriously, I cannot understand how someone can be so square.
Dear boys and girls... Madame et Monsieur... if you are an unfortunate soul with multiple last names thinking to move to an English speaking country, please take some of my advices:
First, check every identity documents to validate the full name appears identical in all of them. If your name is Mary Jane Watson Smith where your last name would be ‘Watson Smith’, check all your documents appears as Watson Smith instead of Watson S. or Watson-Smith.
Second, at the time you are getting new services, take the time to spell everything until they actually get it right.
Third, do not follow recommendations of ‘is going to be easier for the system and/or consultants to understand your last name’. That is utterly false, they still get it wrong and now you will have a document you won’t be able to use as proof of address (or anything else).
Fourth, if you can and you are willing to, sacrifice part of your last name and change it to their standard version. In my case I have been thinking about it for a while now; today just gave me another reason to do it.
‘Until next time’ says Rod With-A-Last-Name-Very-Long-And-Troublesome