I owe people money, but I don’t owe anyone nearly as much as the amount I’m still paying off to Vermont Student Assistant Corporation. (VSAC) I’ve been making payments for that one year of college since 2001 and when my mentor originally helped me fill out the paperwork, I spelled my entire name out.
For those of you who do not know, my first name is Nathanielle. You will notice the extra letters because everyone does. It’s on all of my name badges at work and inevitably I get questions as to it’s ethnicity, nationality, origin, as well as observations about how it is thus far the only time it has ever been spelled this way. That was not me trying to be unique. It was a combination of twelve hours in a delivery room and left over teenage 70’s rebellion.
In Kindergarten I was yelled at because my name was too long. In college and later on in Job Corps, two separate math teachers introduced themselves by looking at the name on the paperwork and, without asking me anything, telling me that I needed to go down to human resources and let them know that they spelled my name wrong. Once, when I was trying to sort out the reason why my blood was rejected by the red cross, a worker on the other end of the phone responded to my spelling with, “That’s not right.”
All the shit I have gotten for that name has made me a proud person. I feel like it is a badge of honor that proves I survived in a world where people can’t even tolerate one or two extra letters in someone’s name. We of the Unusually Spelled Names crowd must stand united.
As I said, when I filled out the paperwork to apply for the loans, I spelled my name out. Of course my mother’s information was also required and she would have spelled my name out correctly as well. It’s important to note that at no time have I ever written my name down as “Nathan”. However, office workers have had this tenancy to shorten my name for whatever reason. I feel like an immigrant whose name was “Americanized” because fuck you that’s why. Since it would be too “presumptuous” to just knock off a couple extra letters, they usually go ahead and shorten it to Nathan.
After ten years, VSAC has been one of the most poorly run institutions I have ever had the misfortune of working with. Their system is so outdated that if I tell Employee A one thing, even if Employee Z is working at the desk next to A, she will not have the information I have to Employee A on hand. This leads to a lot of arguments, because no one at VSAC can ever admit that someone at the office might have made a mistake. They will blame you every time for every bit of confusion that was caused by them.
Recently I was on the phone with them trying to get a forbearance on my loans again and once again, the intern, who must have been new to the game because they have a new employee every five days or so, tried to sell me on the usual rigmarole. Lock in this, sign up for that, consolidate blah, blah, blah. It was the kind of thing that was cute ten years ago but I’ve gotten tired of by now. I also got fed up with them constantly calling me “Nathan” because “That’s what was in their files.”
“Well my name is Nathanielle. I either want to be addressed as Nathanielle, or Mister Crawford. Are we clear on that?”
Well this display of clout must have been too much for the new girl to handle, as she was used to dealing with inexperienced high school students up until that moment, so she quickly muttered something about how she’d make a note and we said our good byes. I felt good for myself, standing up and refusing to be treated like a number by these people. However, a few days later I tried calling again. This time I got someone who was a little more “assertive” in telling me what my name was and was not.
“We have you down as Nathan. If you really want to change your name, you’re going to have to provide documentation proving that it is in fact your name. We need something like a social security card or a birth certificate.”
You know, they need the information they had well over ten years ago when I had to file for the loans in the first place. But no, no one working for VSAC ever shortened my name for their convenience because that’s “not common practice” at VSAC. Cause you know, there has never ever been an employee of any company or organization who did things out of convenience whether it was a good idea or not. The real reason for malpractice insurance is because doctors have too much money and they need to spend it on something. The world is perfect and if you believe otherwise, you’re just a greedy old miser who doesn’t want to pay other people for things.
Well fuck them. I’m not going to provide them with that information. They’re legally entitled to my money but my name is mine.