“No, But I’m a READER”

I was in a meeting in an office and the subject of names came up. I needed my legal name and all of the names that had been used by me. It is odd with me, because I have a lot of names for someone who 1) has only been married once, 2) has no aliases or criminal record, and 3) never wrote nor published under an actual pen name.

At birth I was named Tonette Marta Joyce. When I first wrote and filed for copyrights, I used “T. Joyce”. (There is a nice, shiny award in a frame with that name on it hanging in my hallway.) I wrote some from a male perspective and hoped that “T.”  would blur the gender lines to keep the judges in the right mindset, and it worked, since  the award came in  addressed to “MR. T. Joyce” . (Not to be confused with “Mr.T” !) I was also still pretty shy and let’s face it, “Tonette” sticks out. How many  “Tonettes” do you know, and combined how few last names are “Joyce” in America, then the likelihood of the combination?  If anyone wants to find me, they can!

When I got married, I went to the Social Security office to have my husband’s last name, “Skube” added.
When my card came in, they had changed “Marta” to “Maria”, (one letter off). So back it went, only to have the newer version come back as “Tonette Marie Joyce Skube”, (now, TWO letters off). Back it went again. The last one came in “Tonette M. Joyce Skube” and after checking to make sure that my middle name was actually  “Marta” in their records, so I remained.

I used M. as my middle name in signatures. I kept “Joyce” for writing for several reasons: 1) I already had copyrights under that name,2) I wished to keep my writing separate from my family, my in-laws, and my husband’s jobs and 3) let’s face it, you hear “Joyce” you may think “writer”, but you hear “Skube” and you WILL  think “cartoon dog”. (And believe me when I tell you that we have heard every possible joke many times over, thank you very much.)

When we signed up for Social Security a year and a half ago, I found out that legally, Social Security had changed my name to Tonette M. Joyce-Skube. There was no hyphen on the card when they sent it back to me 36 years before. They never questioned my driver’s license, employment records nor my taxes, not medical records nor insurance payments, not bank accounts nor business records/ licenses; they never told me anything was amiss. I found that, according to the government, I had been known at different times as: Tonette Marta Joyce, Tonette M.Joyce, Tonette Joyce, T. Joyce, Tonette Marta Joyce Skube, Tonette MARIE Joyce Skube, Tonette M. Joyce Skube and Tonette M. Joyce-Skube. When I pointed out that never had I claimed to be known as “Tonette Marie”, they told me that I had. I said only to them, and only as long as I had rushed to straighten them out. (Strangely, they had not listed their first mistake of “Tonette Maria”.) Since I was going to be late with my benefits and knowing their track record of messing up my name, I switched my driver’s license, my bank accounts, my medical records, my voter registration, everything else to “Joyce-Skube”, rather than risk heaven knows how many versions of all the names Social Security could mess up.

[I know that I probably told much of the story of my names before, but here are the details and I will be getting to a point.]

I still go under “Tonette Skube” for most purposes; I’m “Mrs. Skube” to kids and strangers. I have to use “Tonette Joyce-Skube” more often anymore, but not unless it’s medical or legal.

(And, more often than not, people have gone back to addressing me as “Joyce”, which they did so often before I married because they were unfamiliar with “Tonette”  and in America “Joyce” is a common first name for women, so they turned my name around, but tell me about now?  Why would they pull a name out of the middle and address me by it, especially if there is a hyphen? But I digress.)

So, back to the original office at the beginning of this post, where among the others there was a very professional and competent woman going through my names for a while seemingly without  much interest until she stopped dead and said, “You are a writer?”
To which at that point I had to admit that I have not having published even an article recently, ‘only’ blog posts. However, she got all excited. I asked, “Do you write?”, expecting to hear her own story of her own stories when she  gushed, “No, but I am a READER!”  She stopped in the middle of all that was going on and wanted to know about the blogs, what I had/have written, what I had published, what I am writing and what was I planning on writing. It was so encouraging. This is not the first time that something like this happened when the subject of writing comes up,(which it doesn’t very often for me).

The business that was transpiring had been good for me anyway, but this was more than uplifting. With all of the writers that I know, I think perhaps I lose track of the fact that there are a lot of people who DON’T write, and are hungry for stories and information put down for them in an entertaining manner.

I am hitting the keyboard harder.

Other writers, have you experienced something like this?

About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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9 Responses to “No, But I’m a READER”

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    Wonderful vignette with that official who was a reader and excited to encounter an author. Compared to rejections, and not making the cut in contests, and having poor sales reports — which most authors face at one time or another — these moments of recognition and affirmation are truly heart-warming.
    That said, I HATE the type bureaucracies which screw up the information you’ve provided — in clear block letters — and then blame YOU for their mistake. And, furthermore, refuse to fix their mistake to the degree that it’s TRULY fixed. As evidenced by your example, the bureaucratic mistakes will likely follow you to your grave… not withstanding your multiple efforts to straighten it out.

    When we built here on the hill near the family-started cemetery, we soon learned that all the mail reaching us was addressed to CemetAry Road. I started filling out address corrections, to no avail. Then I printed up some notes which I’d slip in to each envelop when I was paying a bill or whatever I was doing. If my address was ever corrected to CemetEry… it very quickly went back to the incorrect spelling. Once, after some 18 frustrating months of trying to straighten this out, I had one of the credit card folks on the phone. That individual agreed to make the correction while we were speaking… and then reported (sadly) to me that it didn’t take. Apparently when he/she entered the correct spelling, the “official” database — supplied by the federal post office, it turns out — “corrected” their entry to the wrong version that their records indicated was right.
    I’ve even tried to get the local P.O. folks to submit a “correction” to their parent agency… to no avail.
    Just another lesson in how immovable a bureaucracy can be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of my stories is that of a librarian, of all things, who took my teenage application for a library card. As when I encountered forms to be filled out as last-name-first,first-name-last, I knew to print JOYCE, Tonette (to make it clear), yet when I picked it up from another librarian, (before they had ‘library workers’ whom they CALLED “librarians”),I pointed out the mistake. pulled my application and I asked if I could have made it clearer. She said no, but the original librarian popped in and said, “Well, I saw that, but I thought that
      ‘Joyce’ COULDN’T be a last name!” I looked her in the eye and said, “You can ban James Joyce if you want to, but you should know who he is.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How encouraging! It is certainly nice to have a little reminder that someone out there is hungry for the stories that you can provide for them.
    That’s a lot of names that the government has decided to give to you. I can’t imagine having to deal with all of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’ve had the experience with the reader before, and it was wonderful. At least you now have your name mess straightened out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, hopefully the name game is over, governmental-wise, but everyone who knew me for over 3 decades as Tonette Skube is now confused with Tonette Joyce-Skube. I used to be right next to my husband on logs-ins and roles( like voting),
      but now I am back in the Js and they have to look up my medical records all over the place. I wish I had known many years ago.

      Like

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I really can’t say I’ve ever had any trouble with my name, even though my maiden name isn’t a common one in this part of the United States. My husband has had people confusing his first and last name, since both are common men’s names. Hopefully soon you’ll have your name on a book cover and people will recognize it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, that will be nice. I have had people recognize my name from articles and once or twice from poems. The rest is a real mix-up.

    Like

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