Librarian has four syllables

This morning’s identity challenge didn’t come from Customs and wasn’t about either my residency or my movements.  Instead, the desk person at the airline checkin had some problems with my name.


My father’s flights of fancy and grandeur led him to give each of his offspring a name of no fewer than seven syllables—and I wasn’t the lucky guy who got that few.  My name, during which some with short attention spans could take a brief nap, has eleven syllables, including many with diphthongs, allowing for even more than the bare necessity of letters needed to create that many beats.  Since my first passport was obtained without my input (due to extreme youth) as to how much of this name to pass along to the Feds and some clown decided to enter the whole lot of it as my “official” name, I haven’t ever had the nerve (or is it patience?) to fill out subsequent passport applications with a shorter alternative—I’m pretty sure that it would take months to work through the questions about why or who the change represented.


But I’ve never used the middle parts of my name on any other form, however, unless I know it has to match my passport.  And for years I’ve been making airline reservations (and other reservations where a passport eventually will come into play) by just going with first and last names.  That’s already a grandiose 18 letters.  I’d run into a bit of a catch when I first immigrated in November, when the Canadian Customs person where I obtained my work permit started to enter the whole thing as spelled out on the passport.  Then she’d run out of spaces (and she was only up to syllable seven!) and my work permit carries a very strange version of a name.  What I didn’t know is that she filed an amendment to my visa, connecting my full name to this bizarre mid-syllable partial.


I’d booked my flight to Philadelphia under my usual first name and last name only, and discovered this morning that henceforth I better change my ways.  The airline guy was nice about it, but let me know that, in future, this just would not do.  I could go with the whole thing (match passport) or with the work visa truncation (match amendment), or I might, he suggested, consider filing another amendment using all my initials.  I didn’t ask why in the world it would be a good idea to introduce yet a third alternative into the databases of the western world—and after he’d mispronounced my name three times and corrected me when I pronounced it correctly, I decided to just move along.


I cleared security in record time and proceeded to US Customs, which is set up in Stanfield International Airport so no unwanted folk accidentally emigrate onto US soil via Halifax.  By this time, I was worried about answering questions about my name, let alone why I’d done a bunk from the US of A.  But the US Customs fellow had completely other issues on his mind.


“Where do you work?” he asked casually.  And in response to my answer, I got overflowing enthusiasm:


“Oh, I use that library a lot!…I use the one on Spring Garden.  You know they’re talking about building a new one?  That would be great.  They’re talking about it anyway.  Hey, have a good trip!”

Okay, and there’s a send off to ALA!


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