Thursday, May 10, 2007

My name is Jake

But my real name is not Jake. Though it’s damn close. And it’s been that way since the LBJ administration.

Since the moment I first step-touch-kick-ball-change-turn-turn-turned my way into this world (jazz hands!), both names have co-existed peacefully on a wide array of legal documents, financial accounts, ID cards and M4M4Découpage online club rosters. And it’s never caused a lick of confusion. In fact, it’s even proven itself to be pretty helpful in weeding out telemarketers who try to act like we’re old friends who don’t know each other’s names and gold diggers who are just after me for my Social Security benefits.

But twice now the whole Jake-not-Jake thing has caused people with inordinate amounts of day-ruining power to ruin my day.

The first time happened about three years ago when I tried to go through security at O'Hare. My ticket said Jake and my driver’s license had my real name. And a power-hungry security person detained me in a private room because of it. Even though I showed her the mix of names on ID cards, credit cards, business cards and everything else in my wallet—and even though her co-workers told her repeatedly she was being a bit of a crazy bitch—she insisted with a straight face that I had no doubt found Jake’s airline ticket on the ground in the airport and decided right then and there to take his flight for him. Because how often do you find yourself wandering aimlessly through an airport with a packed suitcase already checked through to Dulles when you suddenly stumble on a ticket with almost-but-not-quite your exact name on it for the exact same flight you’d already planned to take and you decide well, here’s an opportunity I can’t afford to pass up? Thankfully, her reason-to-detain-me logic was a sound as her reason-to-eventually-let-me-through-security logic, and she soon found whatever she needed to confirm my identity by looking at the socks and shampoo in my carry-on.

My second run-in with security measures designed by partially sober toddlers happened this week. On Friday, I deposited almost $2,000 in expense checks into my checking account via the ATM at my friendly neighborhood bank branch. Like I’ve done about every 10 days for the last seven years. But when I checked my account online yesterday, the checks had been removed from my balance under the transaction description Payee Not On Acct. Which is apparently code for once every seven years, we actually look at the financial documents we process pertaining to your life savings. I cleverly assumed the Jake thing was the reason for the problem, and a 45-minute lunch-hour conversation today with a bank manager confirmed that 1) I was right and 2) the bank has never allowed checks to be deposited into accounts unless the names matched exactly. With the rare exception of every time I have ever deposited a check at this bank over the last seven years because nobody—and I mean nobody—ever uses my real name.

Unfortunately, the resolution to this problem currently lies in the hands of the USPS, who have been entrusted to deliver the checks to my home address so I can start the pointless-checks-and-balances pride parade all over again. In the mean time, I can do nothing but blog and wait. And be $2,000 poorer than I rightfully should be. But the branch manager assures me he’s listed both names in the bank’s system so this won’t happen again when they do their next seven-year security check.

And believe me: If they screw this up again, I’m going to make a big stink about it. Or my name isn't Jake.

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