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what's in a name?

Gotta love it when you are standing in front of someone trying to get your license plates after having been to two other places already to get them, crossing your fingers that she won’t tell you, “you need such-and-such to get your license plates, and since you don’t have it, YOU CAN”T GET THEM TODAY” which translates to smoke coming out of your ears because you HATE the dmv and never want to set foot in another one ever again as long as you live. You cross your fingers extra hard b/c you’ve had a long day and you can tell that the woman in front of you had a long day as well b/c even the most optimistic part of you that usually screams “kill ‘em with kindness” is throwing in the towel and you’re beginning to resign yourself to get snotty just like her and give up on human kind as having anything good in it at all, forever.

Such was my situation this afternoon. I’ve been told by 18 different people 59 different things I need to do to get my license/city sticker/parking permit, and I keep having this feeling that it will never actually happen to me, especially with an impatient woman sitting in front of me.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I noticed a change in her, and I never thought that the reason I got her to smile would have been the reason…ever. But here we go:

She took my paperwork impatiently and began to make corrections, making sure that every “T” was crossed, every “I” dotted, which I had tried and failed miserably. She verified my first name, and pronounced it correctly, so I comment on her saying it right as so few are able to do so. To this she grunted but said nothing. A few silent minutes later, she asked what “heritage, no, where is your last name from?” to which I reply, “the Netherlands, Holland”. She grunts an “oh” and keeps going. A few minutes after that, she asks, “were you born there?” to which I reply, “no, but my dad was”. She grunts another “oh” and keeps going. A few minutes after, she says, “well, who named you?” slowly I’m catching on that she thinks my name doesn’t fit me. I tell her that my parents named me…and she finally gets out “I’ve been trying to figure out where you get your name from, has anyone else ever asked you before?” So I say, yes, and go into my schpeal about where I got my name from. She says, “yeah, it didn’t sound like a Dutch name. in fact, I, um, would think most people would, umm, think it would fit, um, as an Afric…” and I help her cause I can tell she’s a bit awkward…”African American name, yeah I know, I’ve got that before” and I smile. I can tell she’s relieved that I’m not offended, being an African American herself, and she goes on to ask how others have asked in the past. She laughed, “I was trying to be professional, but I just couldn’t understand, trying to see if you had mixed features or something”. I said, no, but my boss, who’s African American told me when I met her that I “have a black girls’ name”…(this my boss mentioned, by the way, to a room full of fellow employees, most of whom were African Americans at one of the programs where I work. They all agreed. I joked at the time that ironically I’m about as “white as they come” for having a “black girl’s” name, and one of the other employees reassured me that it’s all about the “soul in the sista” and not to worry). The woman in front of me laughed and was nice to me the rest of the interaction. She gave me my license plates.

Awesome…and kudos to my parents for giving me a name that is unexpected and made the woman at the DMV smile. I’m glad she had the persistence to ask about it. It made me smile too.

And so, that optimistic part of me has not been completely quieted…and I have not given up on the good of the human race just quite yet…though what would’ve happened if I didn’t have a black girls name…who knows….


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hah! i remember when the birds thought just 'cause you were from new york and with your name that you were african american...yeah right, if you were you'd be the poster child for calvin and have your face plastered on all the brochures..hee

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are welcome!!

My oh my, but you are a good writer!! I enjoy your blogs. :)

1:34 PM  

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