That's Not My Name

Monday, September 21, 2009

Safeway, the grocery store chain, apparently has a policy that states that guests should be thanked by name at the end of each transaction.

After scanning and bagging one's groceries and taking one's money, employees will print out the receipt, look at it, and say something along the lines of "Thank you, Mr. Aggleflaggle, have a nice day!"

They will get the name from either the credit/debit card or "Club Card" info, at the bottom of the receipt. I suppose that if you pay in cash, and don't use a club card, you'll just get a "thank you, have a nice day."

So here's where it gets interesting.

I almost always buy groceries with my debit card, because the cash in my wallet usually only suffices for a coffee or a burrito. This means that my name appears on the receipt along with my card information. I don't have a "Club Card" of my own, so I always plug in either my grandmother's or Boyfriend's phone number, to get the discounts that way.

This means that the checker has a choice of names. And, interestingly enough, the checker seems to always choose to read the "club card" name, not the debit card name.

Which means that on a fairly regular basis, I get addressed as "Ms. Boyfriend'slastname."

Which weirds me out completely.

I usually don't correct them, since that would require me to spend more time in Safeway. I hate supermarkets, you see, and usually try to dash in and out as quickly as possible.

But yeah, their assumption really bugs me. If you see my name (on the credit/debit line) and some dude's name, why would you assume that that's the right last name?????


Semi-, but not completely related:

Why are so many women my age changing their names when they get married? Women who seem otherwise feminist and progressive? Just among friends and coworkers, I can think of at least 6 or 8 people who have gotten married in the last few years and have changed their names. I can only think of 3 who have gotten married and kept their names.

I mean, not even getting into the "why get married?" discussion, why is this trend still so prevalent?

I know I sound horribly judgmental, but I really don't understand.

Especially when the women in question are performers, who rely on publicity and "getting their names out there".....



Anonymous said...

We have a similar dilemma at the grocery store. I'm other "Mrs. Husband" or he is "Mr. Wife."

Are your performer friends still using their "maiden" names for gigs?

Possible discussion topic: for couples in which wife keeps her own name or hyphenates with husband's, what about naming daughters? Should possibly-future-name change be a consideration in deciding whether or not to hyphenate the child's last name or not?

While I haven't answered the question for myself yet, I think I'm of the "We'll make the decision that is right for us as parents, and let her/him decide what to do as an adult" camp. What do you think?


kat said...

Why just daughters, out of curiosity?

I think the "what do you name your kids?" dilemma holds a lot of people back who might otherwise have kept their own names...

I know some brothers who technically have a hyphenated last name, but at least the 2 oldest just use the 2nd name as adults.

Also, the hyphenated last name has been happening in England for a lot longer than here, but for a really interesting reason: historically, a woman would hyphenate if she was from a more "important" family than her husband....

There was a name discussion on Feministing a while back (there have been lots), in which someone mentioned a marriage between people who both have hyphenated last names. What to do??? I think they chose the 2 that they liked best, and both used them.

As for the performer friends:
One changed her name completely (decided to use her middle name as a first name and took her hubby's name) for performances as well as real life (which seems really extreme to me). The others have gotten married recently, and I haven't seen post-marriage programs, so I don't know.

Prior to Boyfriend getting a Safeway card, I was using my grandma's phone number to get the discount. That was extra funny, because I would get "Ms. Hall."

Hall is the last name of my grandma's 2nd husband, who is not genetically related to me at all! I wouldn't mind getting called by her original married name (since it's my middle name), or even her "maiden" name, but the "Hall" is kinda weird....

Celeste said...

kat - I hear you on people changing their names. Its odd to see it in the perfominng arts world, and its odd to see it in academia when women start their publication record before getting married.

I was especially surprised when my best female college friend did the name change... and this was a few years after she got married (and many many years after starting her publication record). She not only wants to have kids, but has found that all sorts of legal stuff is simplified by changing the name. Well, that's what she said.

I know two couples from college who each created new last names for themselves upon marrying. The new names were combinations of the last names of each individual. Each name in the pair had some letters in common, so that was the link. The names feel a bit awkward to me, since I knew each of these people before they changed their names, but its simpler than hyphenating.

Anonymous said...

The reason I mentioned daughters specifically is that a lot of women still take their husband's name, while a small percentage of men change their name at marriage.
So if parents decide to hyphenate their daughter as Jane Doe-Smith, does/should the reality that Jane might decide to add her husband's name become a factor?

Futhermore, what if Jane Doe-Smith marries John Black-Jones? Does Jane become Doe-Smith-Black-Jones? Or, for example, she decided to keep one of her last names and take one of his last names. Most hyphenated last named are mother-father...chances are she will jettison her mother's name.

I have a tendency to overthink, but does any of this make sense?

Oh, and the husband and I think we would prefer a daughter someday. Just don't tell my future
child(ren) that, or I'll revoke favorite auntie privileges!

kat said...

yep, Molly, it makes sense.

The order of hyphenation isn't necessarily set in stone. 2 of my cousins are father-mother hyphenated....I don't know if it's just that that's how it sounded better, or if it was following the Latin American tradition of mother's last name at the end (my uncle met his wife while doing Peace Corps in Honduras)

I personally think it's kinda creepy to think about a daughter's potential future marriage when naming, or any other time during childhood. What if the daughter turns out to be lesbian? Or not into marriage?

I like what you said about "let him or her decide what to do as an adult."

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that by the time our(the generational "our," not possessive) children are ready to marry, they will be able to marry whomever they choose and can take any damn name they please!

kat said...

I sure hope so, Anonymous!

Re: hyphenation and the next generation:
One of the girls in my class has a hyphenated last name. Her mom uses her original name (she's a published academic, so I bet that was a consideration), which itself is hyphenated.

What they did was give the kid the first name in the mom's hyphenated one + the dad's.

Something I forgot to mention in the original post:

One time I was stuck in line at the DMV. It was taking forever, and I was getting really annoyed. I started evesdropping on the people who were being helped at the counter. The ones who were taking so damn long. Turns out it was the clerk's fault.

Instead of just processing the couple's paperwork, she was arguing with them saying that the man couldn't hyphenate his last name. She kept bellowing "It's the WOMAN who changes her name!" "But ma'am" responded the couple, "We're both hyphenating."
"NO! It's the WOMAN who changes...."

it went on forever. I think a supervisor had to be called in.....There aren't any rules at the DMV stating this, btw, just this one woman's ridiculous stubbornness.

And that, my friends, is why my driver's license photo looks like I'm going to eat your baby puppies or something....

Amanda said...

It used to seriously weird me out when I used Michael's club card and they called me Ms. Fox. But then I got married and changed my name and now I AM Ms. Fox.

It was definitely weird for me to change my name, and I struggled with it - I felt like I was betraying women and feminism. But here's why I decided to do it:
1.) Fox is a cool name. And I like the way it sounds with my first name. I am not particularly attached to the name I grew up with (that might be because people in North Carolina pronounced it "Jinx," as in "you owe me a coke," and that everyone always thinks it's Jenkins even when it's written in front of them)
2.) Old-fashioned as this might sound, I like the idea of us being a family, and having one name. And I like the idea that our hypothetical future kids and the two of us will all have the same name. Hyphens get messy. This name could have been any name - mine, his, or one we made up together. His happened to be cool, so we went with it.
3.) It's just a name. The name I had before was my dad's name, which he got from his dad, and he got from his dad, and so on. It also came from a patriarchal tradition. And anyway - again - it's just a name. I know who I am, what my relationship with my husband is, what my opinions are on women/men/gender/etc. My changing or not changing my name does not affect any of those things, or change the way things happened in the past.

Anyway, that's how I justify it to myself. What still weirds me out is being called Mrs. Fox. For some reason the Mrs. title (rather than Ms.) is what REALLY rubs me the wrong way. THAT sounds anti-feminist.

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