Is your name John, but all your friends call you Jack? Tough.
Is your name Elizabeth, and your friends call you Betty? And that’s what’s on your driver’s license? Too bad. You’re in trouble.
My wife, being a Southerner by birth, was named after her maternal grandparents. Both names, Grace and Franklyn (her grandfather was Franklin, but they made the name feminine by change the “i” to a “y”), are on her birth certificate. Although she was given both names, she has always gone by the single name of Franklyn.
Unfortunately, when she went to acquire her Social Security card, it issued the card with only her first and last name on it. Thus, while she was Franklyn to family and friends, she became Grace to the U.S. government.
When in Paris on our honeymoon, the U.S. embassy amended her passport from Grace Noll to Franklyn Skidmore, and all subsequent passports and driver’s licenses have been issued in those names.
But the trouble started with Medicare. Because of the way her Social Security card was worded, her doctors and our pharmacy know her as Grace.
When she went this week, under the new state rules, to have her Florida driver’s license renewed, she had, as requested, her passport (Franklyn), her Social Security card (Grace), her marriage certificate (Grace Franklyn) and her soon-to-be-expired driver’s license (Franklyn). She asked that her driver’s license, which had been issued to her by that exact same office, be renewed as it had previously been issued — Franklyn.
The Department of Motor Vehicles said no, because she might not be Franklyn, instead, she might really be Grace, a sister.
She then asked if it could be issued in the name of Grace, and it again said no; she might be someone named Franklyn.
Pointing to the marriage certificate, which had both names, she said that indicated Grace and Franklyn were not sisters but were one and the same person (at least to the city of New York). Way too confusing for the DMV.
Its solution? It told her to go away and bring better proof as to whom she really is.
I hope James “Jimmy” Carter’s and Willard “Mitt” Romney’s driver’s licenses aren’t due to expire before Nov. 6. They might not be able to vote.
The same problems might be coming in the future for you or thousands of other people who have second names or nicknames on any of the required documents. Or if, heaven forbid, you misplaced one or more of them in one of the last five or 10 moves.
Rodger Skidmore lives on Siesta Key.