Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Van Allen

I  had a very strange run in when having my drivers license renewed a while ago. It was an extremely frustrating experience. I was unable to have Van Allen be two words. Apparently in a German/Dutch founded state in a German/Dutch founded city, they do not recognize German/Dutch surnames or any two word last names for that matter. Now for the rest of my life I have to explain this every time I have anything official done that requires my drivers licence as a form of identification. Unfortunately now whenever I fill out a form with my last name I risk having to go through explaining my legal name is not exactly the same as it appears on the card. I hear "but sir, that is not what's on your licence". It has lead to more than one SNAFU at many an office or place where two forms of identification are required. In light of this i'd like to say something....

 Attention world:  Van is not my middle name. There are people in this world of German and Dutch heritage, not to mention about a dozen others. These people have a Van or Von, De, La, or Le as a prefix to their surname just to name a few.  This is, in fact, their full last name. To not use this or assume it is their middle name is not only a little insulting, but it also a little insensitive. It happens way too often to me and I know it's not a big deal but it can lead to problems. On more than one occasion it's really made doing very simple things like form verification almost impossible. Most of the time I laugh about it and happily correct the mistake. The problem is, when one pauses to think of the mostly very well educated world we live in, it can be pretty darn insulting when a clerk blankly stares at you or what's worse, gets agitated or snippy. It's common to have two word last names in many cultures throughout the world. So this is me saying, hey people it's just to words, it's not a big deal or hard to figure out, so please cut us a break. That is all.