Monday, August 18, 2008

Processing in real time

Despite my anxieties about changing my name, until today, it has proven anticlimactic. The great majority of institutions allowed me to make the name change via email, which surprised the living daylights out of me. Only my bank required that I come in, and those that didn't accept an email request, wanted only a phone call to process the change.

As of today, I was down to three changes that needed to be made.... the phone company, my bank and my auto insurance/homeowner's insurance. The bank was simple. In and out in under 8 minutes. I then went to the insurance agency. When I made the decision to go to the insurance company, I didn't know I had signed up for a comedy show. I suspect that I am the one who thought it was funny. But someone's got to be the straight man sometimes, right? (yes... pun intended).

I walked in with paperwork in hand. A very nice, mid 40's gentleman met me at the counter, asking if he could assist me. I informed him I was there to change the last name on my accounts due to a marriage. I told him I thought I had all the paperwork he would need, and put it all down on the counter... marriage certificate, interim paper license (new picture license came today in the mail - woo hoo!) and my previous picture license. He cheerfully took the papers and said he would go make a copy, and off he dashed.

He returned my original paperwork to me and I gave him my insurance card. He sat down at his desk, just behind the public counter, and began typing. Moments later he stopped. He got up and came to me with the copies of the paperwork in hand.

And so his processing begins....

With the marriage certificate on top, his hand hovering over it he asks, rather shakily,
"Um, forgive me, but what are we doing here?"
"Changing my name."
"Uhhh... which one are you?" as his hand continued to hover over the document.
"This one," I said recognizing immediately that this man isn't stupid. This is his first gay marriage name change. I pointed to my name.
"uhhhh... and you're ....?" He can't figure out how to word the question, how to ask, what words to use.
I smiled. I pointed to the document in the appropriate places and said, firmly, and I have to admit probably a tad bit too loudly, "This is me. I married HER. This is my old name. I have taken HER last name as my new last name."

The words floated in the air for seemingly forever while he tried to figure out how to breathe again.

"umm.... ooooo kay," he said with even less confidence than before.

So many things to process, so little time! He is speaking to a lesbian. She got married to a woman. She just essentially announced it to the whole office. She doesn't care that anyone else, coworkers or other customers, knows. I SWEAR I could see all of this processing in his head as he stood there, frozen for a bit.

It gets better!

He picked up the papers again and went back to his desk and began typing. A supervisor came by to assist another agent and as she walked past his desk he asked for help. Or rather he made an odd noise that got her attention, which indeed was his goal.

"uuuuhhhhh".... she looked at him expectantly. "She's here to make a name change on her account after a ......" his voice is strained and about two octaves higher than it should be, and yes, there is a conspicuous silence as he almost can't quite say it. "..... marriage."

"Yes?" The supervisor prompted him.

"Well, I, uh, well, I don't know the code to use ... with ... uh... this one."

Firmly, carefully and calmly the supervisor stated, "The same code we always use with any name change due to marriage." And she stated the code.

"Oh, oh, Okay," he replied in a more normal voice, and he began typing. The supervisor stood by and watched as he made the changes.

Then, with confidence he clearly doesn't actually feel, his voice still a tad too high, he speaks to me.

"um... okay.... the paperwork will now say " and he proceeded to stumble over deciding to say my name, my wife's name and our last name together as in Joe and Susan Smith, and he couldn't do it. So he said my name and then my wife's name as two separate names.

Which was fine with me. I was having fun with this! I smiled and thanked him. He got up from his desk and came over to the counter and returned my ID card. He stared at me, struggling to say something. He indeed realized he possibly could have offended me with his lack of ability to act professional given this circumstance he had never experienced. His staring went on for a long while before he said...

"Are you planning a trip?" This caught me by surprise for just as second. Was he offering me a deal on a honeymoon? When I told him there weren't any trips in my near future, he stumbled over sharing that their agency had a fantastic travel agency. I thanked him and put my things together to leave. He made one more attempt to try to make sure things were smoothed out and that he wasn't going to get in any trouble from me complaining...

"We also do DMV services..." and his voice got smaller. He was defeated. He gave in to the idea that he had not handled himself well at all. "...but you probably already know that..." he continued, almost inaudibly.

I decided to let him off the hook...

"Yes I am well aware of the wonderful services you offer here and the DMV services are one of my favorite reasons for staying with your agency."

With that I smiled, gathered my things and left. He looked slightly green, but was breathing more normally.

In no way was I offended. Those of you who know me know I can be a bitch when I want to be. I didn't think it necessary at all in this case. While I was getting tremendous enjoyment out of watching him squirm, I never got the sense that he was homophobic, only ignorant to the possibilities that are now out there. I'd like to think that I made it easier for the next gay or lesbian couple that goes in for the same reason.


Next up... the phone company!!!


Sbyllek said...

ohhh...I hope they make you come in just so you can write another hilarious story!! :D

T. J. Hand said...

i have to say, I am feeling more sure of myself with all this and another face to face could be fun! When I changed my name on my Chevron card, the man congratulated me on my marriage and then asked me if I wanted an additional card for my new husband. I wish I had been more brave in that phone call, but instead I politely declined. Oh well.