What’s my name?

I like my names, both first and last. People seem to choke on both of them, and I don’t really understand why. Maybe I don’t speak clearly enough, but I often end up getting called “Cal” or “Karl”. One sandwich place in the city even managed to consistently write down “Todd” on my order ticket. I suppose that was better than having the immigrant fellow behind the counter puzzle at the pronunciation for a bit and then holler out, “Kill! Kill!” when trying to alert me that my meal was ready.

My last name is a whole other ball of wax. As long as I can remember, it has been mangled. VanderBeek is as phonetic and simple as can be, but people seem to panic due to the extra capitalized letter and number of letters. I’ve long since stopped using the space that should be before the “B”: too many people decided “Vander” must be my middle name. Granted, a certain no-talent ass clown has made life a little easier with respect to recognition (though I find his use of capitals and spaces gluttonous). Sadly, that comes at the cost of being asked if I’m related to dear James every time a teen-aged checker at Safeway notices the name that comes up when I swipe my card. Such is my lot.

The most puzzling thing, though, is the world’s seeming inability to believe that I can correctly spell my name on a form. I have decent print handwriting, and am especially careful on forms that will be read by scanners. Still, I get all manner of variations coming out the other end. I’ve had to correct the DMV, my bank and broker, insurance companies, and employers. Mostly they seem to think it impossible that two consecutive e’s would be in there. Almost uniformly they seem to think, “Surely he must mean ‘VanderBeck’.” And, of course, they are very wrong.

Finally, there is the category of truly random mistakes. I get email and junk mail to a variety of bizarre permutations, some more hilarious than others. However, I recently got a refund check to a name that is useful. I’d like to thank the people at Epson for making reasonably good printers with enticing rebates, and for supplying me with what I must eventually use as my stage name: VanderRock!