Monday, June 9, 2008

Same Name Woes

Ted's several greats grandfather founded our town over 200 years ago. This man had 10 children. Out of those ten, at least seven of them each had fourteen children. The next generation, in general, again contributed very well to the population of the county. Each generation was roughly 50% male and 50% female.

Although Ted's dad was an only child, there were many "distant" cousins in the area. When I need to tell someone my last name, inevitably they ask if I'm related to "so-and-so" and my standard answer is "distantly...we all go back to the founder of the town". As far as CLOSE relatives with the same last name, there is really only Tim, Ted's older brother. Peg, his older sister, is married and has a different last name now.

Not long after we first got married, we lived in an apartment that was just outside of town. It had an address with a "number" and a street name. However the main road that led to our townhouses was also referred to as simply, Rt. 1.

I received several items of mail that first summer, addressed to me, but with the first name spelled CINDY. That wasn't so unusual, as many people just assumed that I spelled it that way. However, these items had to do with things that I knew absolutely nothing about. They were addressed to Cindy *******, Rt. 1. After a few weeks, I began writing on the outside of the envelope "Delivered to wrong address" and put them in the mailbox at the post office. I didn't think much of it at the time and after we purchased our first house (and of course changed our address), it stopped.

Fast forward a few years. I was at the doctor's office to get a new prescription for my blood pressure medication. This was back when all the info on the charts was handwritten. The woman who was noting my BP, pulse, etc. began writing it on the chart, and I was looking over her shoulder. As a rule, I discovered that the office employees guard the charts with every line of defense they have, even if it's your own chart! As I looked over her shoulder, she would move the chart so I couldn't see it. I just moved along with her. After she had written every thing in, I simply said, "That's not me."

She looked at me quizzically. "What?"

"That's not my chart."

"It has your name on it. How old are you?"

I told her and she said that that was how old the chart said I was.

"But that's NOT me."

"How do you know?"

"It says, 'd/c bcp' right at the top (discontinue birth control pills) and I've NEVER taken birth control pills."

"What's your date of birth?"

I told her and she said, "Ahhhhhhhhhh...well apparently you and THIS Cindy ******* are only about 5 months apart in age."

I was just very glad that I was nosy enough to read the chart. Now when I need to call there or when I show up for an appointment, I take great care in making sure that they know WHO I AM and WHO I AM NOT.

But a few years later I went to the eye doctor's office to pick up my new glasses. As soon as the girl pulled them out of the envelope, and before I was able to see the optometrist, I told her, "Those are not my glasses."

She checked the envelope and commented that they were indeed my glasses.

I told her that the frames were not what I picked out. Then I briefly tried the glasses on and the prescription was totally wrong.

She was quite perplexed and then asked me for my address. I told her and she said (and I quote), "Ahhhhhhhh...wrong Cindy *******."


It got even more interesting at the eye doctor's office. They use middle initials on names there. They had inadvertently switched the OTHER Cindy *******'s middle initial with mine, so that totally confused them even more. When I tried to explain that, they were so confused they didn't know which end was up. They eventually got it straightened out, but what really ticked me off was that I'd made the trip to their office and MY glasses weren't even there.

About 4 or 5 years ago I was shocked to open up the newspaper on a June Sunday morning and find my name in the obituaries! It was listed as "Cynthia *******" and that required a double-take. Yes, Cynthia is my given name, and although I've never liked it, it's my official moniker.

The late Cynthia was several years older than me and had died at her home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She was divorced and had a couple of adult children. As I recall she died of complications from emphysema brought on by years of heavy smoking. Nope, that definitely was NOT me!

Ted's sister called me later that day and said that she was glad to know that I was still alive. I don't like to laugh or joke about the recently departed, but our conversation really was pretty funny.

A year or so after that, another Cynthia ******* and her husband were getting a divorce. Our local newspaper lists divorces and dissolutions under the "Court Monitor" section of our paper. I didn't think anything of it, because it had both her name AND his name listed and surely anyone who knew me would know that it wasn't Ted and me.

I was wrong. A couple of months after that appeared in the newspaper I had taken Alex to the orthodontist and I always got along very well with the women who work there. We were all talking about something and I said the words "my husband" in the conversation. The two women I was speaking with looked at each other, then me, and one of them said, "So you AREN'T divorced??"

I said, "Noooooooo...why do you ask?"

"Well, we saw something in the paper about Cynthia ******* getting divorced and were upset thinking it was YOU."

So I told them that there were several of us floating around town and it was NOT me.

Right after we moved into our new home, there were still a few outside things that needed done and the guys came back to do them. One of the things included pouring the concrete walkway from the driveway to the front porch.

Our builder had a high school student helping him on his time off from school and he was one of the guys who showed up on a spring day to work on this. I innocently asked him why he wasn't in school that day and he told me that it was the day before spring break and they weren't doing anything in school, so he decided to work instead. I really got on his case, discussing the importance of education and how inappropriate it was for him to be here instead of at school. By this time he knew he was in for a real lecture and asked one of the other guys for some moral support as he was sinking fast with his explanation. Once I started on him, I just didn't quit. I asked him if his parents knew where he was and whether or not they would approve of his decision NOT to go to school. Then I told him that I knew his dad and perhaps should give him a call. The poor kid (who happened to be about 6'5" tall and around 280 lbs.) was sinking fast and he knew it.

Then I asked him if he knew what I did for a living and he said, "You're an accountant, right?"

"Nope...WRONG Cindy *******. I'm a teacher!" and I just laughed and laughed.

He turned bright red, and buried his face in his hands.

And now for the latest in the Same Name Story. When I called the vet's office a couple of weeks ago to make Oliver's initial appointment with them, the woman on the phone looked me up on her computer and said, "well let's see...which one are you?"

I gave her my address and asked her if there was another Cindy ******* who took her pets there and she said YES. I'm thinking that perhaps she just recently got a pet, because this was never an issue before when I would take Pepina or Marina in.

Changing the "y" to an "i" at the end of my name really didn't help these situations, but at least it makes me a little different when I write my name!


docgrumbles said...

This is exactly why I hyphenated my name - not to be pretentious, but to be the "only" me out there. Still, There is a women on my street with a similar name to mine (minus the maiden name tacked on with a hypen)... every time we go to vote, they ask me to sign by her name, which is right under my husband's name... and I have to explain that I am in a different section AND the first name isn't even the same. Scary.

Terre said...

I really enjoyed this post Cind"i". Just to add humor, I have the same name as my sister in law. Yep Rus and his brother both married Terre's (I use an e and she uses an i but it doesn't help much in conversations. But I did hyphenate my last name (when you marry a Smith, Jones, Johnson, or Brown you already know you are in for some name confusion) but there are still people out there who don't know what to do with a hyphenated name. One day a clerk asked me to spell my last name which are both TOO easy for people to NOT know how to spell. So when I had spelled the first part of my last name, I said "hyphen" then spelled the second part of my last name. The girl said "wait you're going to fast, how do you spell hyphen?". Yes they walk among us is all I can say. :o)

Paulie said...

I understand completely. I always wanted a nickname because I hate Pauline but I did not like Polly. My twin, marguerite was always Margie. One day a friend emailed me and said "Hi, Paulie." I chidded her for mis-spelling my name but she said no, she liked it. I DID TOO! That was two years before the movie called "Paulie" came out. I have been knows by Paulie ever since.

By the way, I love the name Cynthia and would have named another daughter Cynthia Lynn.