My name IS

INDIVIDUAL: Karen Luther Eliot née Karen Luther Blissett Eliot
NATURE OF GROUP: Bureaucrats of every stripe; Social Security administrators, DMV clerks, bank tellers, investment managers, customer service specialists, insurance agents, human resources professionals, IT techs.,  and postal clerks.

In the year 2000 I legally changed my name from Karen Luther Eliot to Karen Luther Blissett Eliot,* where “Blissett Eliot” (no hyphen) was my last name and now in 2013 I have changed it back to my birth name – dropping Blisset. I am in possession of a legal name change document and simply need to update some documents and accounts to reflect my new (old) name; Social Security card, drivers license, car registration title and insurence, mortgage and house title, two bank accounts and checks, credit card account, three investment accounts, and a work email address and signature-line.

*This IS a combination of my two REAL fake names

I have a two week staycation starting Monday January 7th and plan to spend some time each day – hopefully not more than half the day – addressing my name change issues. ThIS report will be documenting my journey…

01/07/2013 DAY 01:
DMV (phone only) – Car registration, title, driver’s license and (related) auto insurance with Geico. Social Security Administration – register a legal name change and new Social Security Card.

The car registration IS the most pressing and complicated issue. It expired two months ago and I’ve been procrastinating re-registering it until I could do so with my current legal name. Also, this transaction will be complicated by my need to remove my ex of two years from the registration, title and insurance and add my live-in significant other to said documents. It’s worth noting that in addition to the legal name-change document I also have a legal document stating that my ex is no longer an owner of the vehicle. I feel this warrents a call to the help line prior to a visit to the actual DMV.

1:21pm – On hold with the State DMV help-line … … Country Swing

1:29pm … The hold music switches to Smooth Jazz … …

1:38pm – Anne at the State DMV help-line informed me that every County would require different documentation in my case and gave me another number to call. She also gave me a second number to call regarding changing my name on my driver’s license.

1:43pm – On hold with my County DMV …  Smooth Jazz …

1:46pm – Steve listens to my scenario and tranferrs me to a specialist at the “DMV”. On hold … Smooth Jazz.

1:48pm – Dan tells me that to remove my ex’s name both they and myself will have to sign the back of the title as sellers and myself with my new name and my significant other need to sign as buyers, I take that title in with my name change documentation and license. I asked Dan if my licensce needs to reflect my new name. He said yes hesitantly but did not have any information on what type of documentation was needed to get a new license with my new name. Fortunately Anne gave me a number to call regarding driver’s licensing.

1:56pm – On hold with Driver’s License Section regarding the name on my driver’s license … … Smooth Jazz.

2:01pm … The hold music switches to Adult Contemporary Rock.

2:05pm – Cedric listens to my scenario and rapidly fires off all requirements from memory; first register my name change with the Social Security office and wait 24 hours (I do not need a new Social Security card to change my license), bring my current license, my birth certificate with my new (old) name on it, something with my name and address such as a utility bill, and $21 in cash, check or money order.

2:08pm – I feel like I’m finally swimming up-stream to the source – the Social Security office! I’m going to run down there as I bet they stop letting you take a number sometime around 3pm. I have my checkbook, current I.D. and Social Security card, original Birth Certificate, legal name-change documents, and the December double-issue of The Economist magazine…

It’s illegal to photograph Federal Buildings. So here’s a Google Street View…

2:34pm – At the Social Security Administration | Administración del Seguro Social. I press #1 on the self check-in kiosk for “Replacement Card including for name change” and it spits out S134 – now serving S116, J781, E403, P348. There is a cacophony of ring-tones, one-sided conversations, intercom garble and mildly resigned/annoyed conversation. I would say all of humanity is here but, based soley on fasion choices, there are no affluent people here. Case studies: A 20ish girl with verticle-drip Black Metal style eyeliner and x-treme baggy multi-zipper n’ buckle raver pants clutching her number receipt. A 50ish man in FUBU gear, a doorag, and Payless trainers talking in unintelligible mush-mouth into a flip phone like it was a walkie-talkie while riffling through a file folder full of x-rays. A cute teenage newly-wed couple smiling and holding hands in their matching red and black North Side Mafia colors.  There is a poster of present day George Takei in his Mr. Sulu uniform against a sunlit earth backdrop and the screaming headline, “Oh my that was easy! BOLDLY GO to”

2:44pm – Now serving S117

2:54pm – Now serving S123. I should have brought my Geico info so I could be on hold while I’m on hold.

3:04pm – Now serving S127. The outer door closed and locked at 3pm.

3:10pm – Now serving S132!!

3:17pm – Clerk 21 (no names at the Social Security Administration) listens to my scenario and asks me for my application (!?), name change document, and I.D.. I told her I didn’t know I needed an application. She filled it out for me, processed my information in two minutes, and sent me on my way with a receipt and a promise of a new Social Security card in two to three weeks with NO FEE! A little tip for identity thieves: many customers seem to leave the Social Security Administration on foot and a large percentage seem to be intoxicated or incapacitated. All are carrying a least a few important identity documents such as their Social Security card or their original Birth Certificate.

3:25pm – Refocused on the vehicle registration issue, I drop by my office (remember I’m on vacation) to print out an official State Vehicle Bill of Sale and Odometer Disclosure Statement. Although Dave didn’t tell me I’d need it, the DMV website clearly says all vehicle sales and must include an  Odometer Disclosure Statement – presumably even vehicle sales which aren’t actually sales because the buyer already owns the vehicle. I’m somewhat concerned that the official Bill of Sale document I downloaded and printed out from the DMV website has a giant red VOID overlaid on it.

4:09pm – Back home, I’ve got the Title and Bill of Sale ready for my ex to sign and “sell” me the vehicle I own and they do not own.

4:14pm – Geico answers immediately after I navigate the automated routing system. As I’d like to ad my significant other to the policy Ricky transfers me to a full license agent. On hold … Hip-Hop! …

4:20pm – Kwandra (maybe Qu’andra?) is happy to help me with my policy name change (no verification needed) with adding my significant other to the policy (saying “Ooo aren’t they sweet” when she overhears my significant other giving me their driver’s license info.) It costs $5.15 to ad another driver to the policy.

4:27pm – Done for the day.


Accomplishments: Name change registered with Social Security and a new card on the way. Updated Geico policy and new documentation in my inbox (I’m going to have to go back in to the office to print it out…) Groudwork laid for a Wednesday trip to the DMV for a new Driver’s License.

Number of Interactions: 7 – Anne, Steve, Dan and Cedric with DMV, Clerk 21 at Social Security, and Ricky and Kwandra at Geico.

Money Spent: $5.15 – though this was unrelated to my name change but to an ancillary issue taken care of while on the phone of adding my significant other to my policy.

Time Spent: 4 hours and 20 minutes.

Reviews: DMV – The DMV’s automated phone system was like the maze of the minotaur and the hold times were long. Cedric was the only operator who seemed to have an immediate command of solid information. Social Security – despite seeming like a descent into hell Social Security was pretty entertaining, the wait time was tolerable and the service from Clerk 21 was exemplary and fast. Geico – Geico rocks.

01/08/2013 DAY 02:
KeyBank – checking account and checks, checking overdraft line-of-credit, savings account, credit card account.

These transactions are somewhat complicated by the need to unlink my checking account with my ex who is also a Key Bank customer and has independently requested the accounts be unlinked with no success.

12:29pm – Off to the bank!

12:55pm – Arriving at my local branch. There are two things I like about KeyBank (no space), it’s a regional bank headquartered in my city so I don’t have to deal with mega-corporate convenience like the time a CitiBank (no space) customer service representative told me that there were indeed branches in my city – at every 7-11, also my local branch is the historic sight of the first Cheeseburger.

The etching on this stone historic marker is of a restaurant in the shape of a giant Root-Beer barrel. The inscription reads, “On this site in 1935 Louis E. Ballast created the Cheeseburger. His restaurant, The Humpty Dumpty Barrel Drive-In was the State’s first drive-in and was commonly known as The Barrel. The Cheeseburger trademark was registered by Mr. Ballast on March 5, 1935. Dedicated March 5, 1987″ 

1:01pm – Oksana beckons me over to her cube. She is a blinged-out Russian glamour-queen in a pink, black, and white pant-suit and a high pony-tail. She has an AS in Accounting from Parks College and a Certificate of Appreciation from the D.E.A.. She listens to my scenario and tells me that I’ll have to close my checking account and checking overdraft line-of-credit and open a new checking account and apply for a new checking overdraft line-of-credit but I can change my name on my existing savings and credit card accounts. (Transitioning my checking account to a new name and number will mean I need to; get a new debit card, order new checks, update my direct-deposit with H.R. at work, update my criKet auto deduct, update my Geico auto-deduct and change the account information on my Mortgage and Student Loan bill-pays.)

1:23pm – As Oksana tabs through KeyBank’s prompt based operating system changing the name on my savings account, closing my checking account, opening a checking account, ordering new checks, and applying for my new checking overdraft line-of-credit, she bobbles her head, blinks her eyes twice and says, “I have to remember to do everything. I’m not in work mode – just got back from my two week vacation.” Oksana has a deep tan and this Winter has been particularly grey so I ask her where she went on her vacation. “Oh nowhere – I just slept and watched t.v.. Didn’t even shower!” A staycation!

1:27pm – Oksana has the KeyBank Card Center, to change the name on my credit card, on speaker and is trying to navigate the touch-tone activated routing system. She keeps leaning down toward the speaker and saying, “OPERATOR… OPERATOR…”

1:28pm – On hold with the KeyBank Card Center … Classical …

1:30pm – Tammy answers and lets Oksana get through about half of the scenario before transferring us to a 1-800 number with a new touch-tone activated routing system. CJ immediately answers to OPERATOR and after listening to the scenario asks Oksana for her “Code” – she picks up the receiver. CJ transfers us again.

1:33pm – Pamela can help us with our issue. Oksana is on the receiver and is saying things like, “core-information,” “consumer,” and “time-frame”.

1:36pm – Oksana is around the corner faxing (FAXING!) my name change documents to Pamela.

1:40pm – My application for a checking overdraft line-of-credit has been processed. My previous checking overdraft line-of-credit was $500.00. Oksana informs me that my 760+ Equifax Grade 1 credit score has qualified me for a checking overdraft line-of-credit of $15,000.00.

1:53pm – Crystal at the teller counter deposits my mortgage escrow refund into may savings under my new name, gives me $200 in cash to handle the DMV issues from my new checking account, issues me a temporary check to give to H.R. to adjust my direct deposit. Oksana is trying to over-ride the fee for the temporary checks but her teller station password has expired because she didn’t log-on during her staycation.

1:55pm – While I’m waiting Mirella, an Account Manager who I dealt with for my mortgage refinance came by and greeted me by name asking how I was doing and if everything with my accounts was going well.

2:00pm – Done! As I’m unlocking my bike I see Oksana leave for lunch in her mid-grade luxury sedan.


Accomplishments: My name change is official on my savings account. I have a new checking account which will appear on my on-line banking in 5 to 7 business days with checks and a debit card on order. The savings account is up to date with the same number. My name is changed on my credit card, my current card still works but Oksana told me I need to call them on Friday to “make sure they are working on it.”

Number of Interactions: 6 – Oksana, Tammy, CJ, Pamela, Crystal, and Mirella at KeyBank

Money Spent: $0! Oksana was able to log in and waive my temporary check fee and for my personalized checks, I opted for the standard design with carbon copies at no charge.

Time Spent: 1 hour and 31 minutes.

Review: KeyBank’s internal operating system looks no better than the DMV’s and apparently they treat their own Account Specialists just like customers – multiple transfers with automated touch-tone routing systems. The hold times were short. Oksana and Crystal were exemplary, very professional while maintaining the friendly, chatty demeanor of a neighborhood service provider. It really impressed me the Mirella remembered my name and came over to say high. On balance I love KeyBank.

01/09/2013 DAY 03: 
DMV (Driver’s Licence Section) – a new license.

I’m hoping this is straight forward. I have all the documents that Cedric told me to bring and it has been 24 hours since registering my new name at the Social Security Administration. I’m kind of excited for this because I don’t look anything like my I.D. picture and I want to change it up. To draw an inaccurate analogy – on my current picture I have a pixie-cut and no make-up. Now I have long hair and wear fairly heavy make-up. I want a picture as I am now so I can cut my hair short and go back to a natural look while maintaining the confusing disparity between my I.D. image and real life.

1:15pm – Off to the DMV with the new copy of The Economist!

1:25pm – I arrive at the Department of Revenue which houses the DMV Driver’s License Section. There aren’t any bike racks so I lock my bike to the POLICE PARKING ONLY sign.

I love it when government agencies drop the pretense…

1:30pm – Anita is working the gatekeeper kiosk counter and is yelling people through the touch screen system. Her bun is so tight it’s giving her a facelift. Half the people in line are getting their licenses reinstated which makes me more indignant about the lack of bike racks. (I went through a reinstatement several years ago – Anita was my clerk.) The guy in front of me is having trouble navigating the touch screen which elicits an exasperated O!M!G! from Anita. Under her barked instructions, I navigate my way to Replacement License for Legal Name Change and am issued G803.

1:33pm – Now serving R888, S668, S667, S666, R886 … …

1:37pm – Still no G or letters that come before G in the alphabet are on the board. The DMV is more of a cross section of the population than the Social Security Administration. Case studies: There is a 60ish man with a scraggly grey pony-tail and a matching real-tree camo hat and coat with standard Wall-Mart issue grey sweat pants followed by two 40ish Mitt Romney types in L.L. Bean gridded button-downs tucked into tan and forrest green pleated slacks.

1:42pm – It’s both bizarre and alarming that there is no door security and no visible sign of an armed guard!? This is the DMV for Christ’s sake!!

1:50pm – Numbers prefaced with B are now on the board!

1:52pm –  “G803 to Station 8″ blasts out of the loud speaker. I scramble to get my things together and hurry over to station 8 to get in line behind 6 people. The clerk from station 7 looks at our line and asks Elysia, our clerk, which numbers she called for. Elysia responds with a befuddled mumble and starts asking us one at a time which numbers we have. Clerk 7 tells her indignantly not to worry about the numbers and “just process them.”

1:56pm – The 18 year old girl in front of me is trying to get a license with her Birth Certificate and Social Security card. Elysia snatches the Birth Certificate out of her hand gives it the once over and says, “First of all, you are going to need to order a new birth certificate. This has tape on it and that invalidates it. You can bring one of your parents in with their picture I.D. to sign a sworn affidavit. Is one of your parents with you?” The girl sheepishly points to her Grandmother. Elysia looks at Granny and says “Your Grandmother is not listed on your Birth Certificate. NEXT!” The girl is clearly bummed-out. She hasn’t learned yet that you should treat every trip to the DMV as a fact-finding mission with no expectation that you will have the necessary documents. That way every fourth or fifth visit you are pleasantly surprised by actually walking away with what you came for!

2:00pm – Elysia takes my Birth Certificate and carefully runs her finger-tips over the debossed seal, flips it over, holds it up to the light and carefully examines the vertical crease before handing it back to me with, “I don’t need this.”

2:04pm – I learned a long time ago that if I can’t see the peripheral vision light on the eye test to say “right.”

2:08pm –  I’ve got a referral slip for the cashier, Elysia took the sole copy of my notarized name change document in addition to my license. I’m in line for the cashier until Elysia yells my name from two stations away followed with, “You are not in line for the cashier.”

2:11pm – I get into the correct line which is in a separate area. Anita, from the front, brushes past me and attempts to key in a code on an Employees Only door. After three attempts she says – to herself – “What, I don’t work here anymore?” tries it a fourth time and yells “FUCK” before storming off.

2:15pm – Glenn the cashier processes my $21 transaction without making eye contact and hands me a receipt with no further instructions.

2:16pm – I approach unoccupied Clerk 5 with an excuse me ma’am regarding my lack of further instructions. She cuts me off, points at the bank of chairs, and in a firm commanding voice says, “SIT”.

2:23pm – I’m still sitting. A poster (in all capps but I’ll spare you) on the wall in front of me says, “Threats, threatening or disruptive behavior, abusive language, or acts of violence will not be tolerated. Individuals displaying this type of behavior will be escorted from the premisis.” I think, by who? Anita?

2:25pm – Renee yells out my (new) name. She returns my name change document and has me sign my name inside a small box with the warning, “Your signature MUST NOT touch the box.” I get back in the line that was the wrong line for the cashier.

2:31pm – Renee yells at us to remove out hats, jackets, scarves, and glasses. The gut in front of me has a hat, jacket, and glasses – no scarf – but he is wearing a doo-rag under his hat which is kind of like a scarf for your head.

2:34pm – Once at the front of the line my (new) name is yelled out and I enter a little yellow room. Judy takes an electronic print off my right index finger, hands back my whole-punched license with a paper temporary license, takes my picture and sends me on my way with, “I wish everyone was as cooperative as you.”

2:36pm – Done and done!


Accomplishments: I have a temporary license with my new name and a brand new license coming to me with no e.t.a..

Number of Interactions: 7 – Anita, Elysia, Clerk 7, Glenn, Clerk 5, Renee, and Judy.

Money Spent: $21.00

Time Spent: 1 hour and 16 minutes.

Review: Though the DMV is comparable in some ways to the Social Security administration it didn’t have the relaxed entertaining atmosphere. Despite spending over an hour there I never even touched The Economist issue I brought. A high number of interactions were packed into a relatively short period of time. You have to be on your toes at the DMV. Overall it went much faster than I anticipated. The constant yelling made me feel like a I was at a fish mongers auction in HELL.

01/10/2013 DAY 04: 
KeyBank follow up and three investment accounts with Ameriprise, Fidelity, and CitiBank. If I have time I’ll also update my new banking information with Geico, criKet, Sallie Mae and my mortgage service provider. I’m thinking the three investment companies might provide an interesting compare/contrast scenario.

As I get deeper into the Leviathan I think I can see my way through the belly of the beast. Today is more banking and investment accounts, tomorrow will be H.R. at work and some anticipated printing and faxing for the Investment Advisors I talk to today in addition to printing my Geico proof of insurance for vehicle titeling at a different DMV office on Monday.

11:27am – A “Please Follow Up” yellow post-it with “Steve Ameriprise” and an 888 number and extension falls out of my four inch stack of unopened investment account statements. My Ameriprise IRA is in my old name but this account is unique in that the way to rectify the account is to transfer it to my ex. The account is my Individual Retirement Account but all the money came from my ex and I need to transfer it to them without incurring any tax liability. This move is called a Trustee to Trustee Transfer.

11:31am – I’m calling Steve and entering his extension … I’m routed to a voicemail for Carrie, leave a message with my scenario and my call back number. She will get back to me “within one business day.”

Some days there’s not enough coffee in the entire world…

11:36am – While at the DMV yesterday I got a voicemail from Jenna at KeyBank asking me to call a 800 number regarding my “request”. I’m following up now …

11:52am – I just got off the phone with Brian at KeyBank’s Loan Closing Dept. They needed to know my work phone number for my Checking Overdraft Line of Credit. (It took me seven minutes to locate my office phone number – I eventually had to google my work directory). What Brian REALLY needed to do was to tell me that I qualify for a $5,000.00 preferred line of credit with a historically low interest rate which could be mine for a nominal $25.00 fee!

12:03pm – I’m calling a 800 number written in pen on the front of an empty Fidelity envelope… I set up a user name, password, and security question on the automated system. I choose an option other than my Mom’s birthday because I have a hard time remembering it. Emily picks up immediately, listens to my scenario, and tells me I need to fill out a name and address change form with photocopies of my temporary license with my new name and any legal name change documents and then fax, mail, or email in the photocopies (email a photocopy?). An email from her with the form attached hits my inbox before she finishes her sentence. Emily stresses to me that my license needs to be my “actual” identification…

12:21pm – Two of the three pieces of paper Citi Personal Wealth Management sends me every month are disclosure statements. Nowhere on the document do they disclose their phone number.

12:24pm – I’m calling CitiBank Retirement Planning Products 800 number … Brenda picks up right away but after taking my account number puts me on hold to transfer me to another department … … Smooth Jazz with stuttering streaming (which kind of makes it sound like Be-Bop.) …

12:28pm – Wendy listens to my scenario. Since the name I’m dropping only expresses as a middle initial on this account Wendy puts me on hold to see if it can be changed without documentation.

12:33pm – To change my name on my CitiBank account I need to mail them a certified original legal name change document (I have one copy) with a letter of explanation and a request to have it returned. I do not need a self-addressed stamped envelope – CitiBank will go ahead an spot me the 45 cent postage. I also wanted to change my death beneficiary which they have a form for. Wendy took my email address and told me to look for it in about a day but sometimes the emails don’t go out… So… there is NO chance I’m mailing CitiBank my sole certified name change document. Essentially, Wendy just tasked me with a trip down to the County Clerk and Recorder to get a second copy of my name change documents certified which, if I recall, costs $25 and is an hour-long line.

12:59pm – I’m taking this opportunity to open these last eight months of statements, from Ameriprise, Fidelity, and CityBank, unfold them, put the disclosures in the shred pile, and file them…

1:06pm – An Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield explanation of benefits statement was hidden amongst the investment account statements. It has my old name on it – I totally forgot about this…

1:11pm – I’m calling Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s 800 number … judging from their automated system, this is only for my Dental. I pull out my general health insurance card which also has my old name on it and is through an HMO which is an Anthem company but appears to be a wholly separate entity…

1:16pm – After saying ASSOCIATE into the phone, Jessica picks up listens to my scenario and tells me if my insurance is employer provided I’ll need to submit my name change through my H.R.. I ask her if the same would apply to my HMO plan to which she cheerily replied, “probably.”

1:44pm – after a quick lunch break (on the clock), I’m transitioning over to collateral damage from changing my checking account – auto-deduct with Geico and criKet, and bill pay information with KeyBank Mortgage Services Center and Sallie Mae.

1:47pm – Geico’s automated system directs me to press three for update your auto-bill pay information. A voice activated robot answers – we’ll call him Rob for Robot. I tell Rob I want to update my information with a card instead of a check which was my intention. This gets me out on a limb of the phone tree with no way back. After Rob being confused by my saying BACK a few times I say OPERATOR. Dave picks up and asks for my policy number. I don’t have that handy so he pulls up my account with my phone number and immediately transfers me to the payment center. On hold … Smooth Jazz …

1:53pm – Janae picks up and asks me for my policy number and I give her my phone number instead. She tells me that all account updates are handled through their automated system but stresses that I will need my policy number on hand as she transfers me to Rob(ot). I hang up and go out to the car to get my insurance document and policy number.

1:57pm – Rob auto-detects my policy number from my phone number. I update my account information. Rob says, “if your transaction is complete – hang up now!”

2:16pm – criKet is a unique company in that they do not accept credit or debit cards. Their preferred method of payment is in cash at any criKet outlet. When I first got my phone I had to call a customer service line to set up auto-deduct. It cost me an extra $2 a month.

2:17pm – 1-800-criKet!

2:19pm – After the automated system doesn’t recognize my date of birth or zipcode it transfers me to Mike who asks for my authorization PIN. I tell Mike I was never given one and he asks me to give him four to six digits. Mike sets up my pin and uses it to access my account (some security at criKet!) As I give Mike my routing number and bank account number, I jot down a note to purchase Identity Theft Insurance… Mike talks in the same per-syllable staccato that Rob the robot used. In fact, the only way I can tell Mike is NOT a robot is that he’s incompetent.

2:24pm – Mike transfers me to criKet Payment Services for security verification purposes. The automated system goes into a loop explaining what auto bill pay is and asking me to press 1 to continue then reading me the same message and asking me to press 1 to continue. After three times around, Anthony picks up and asks me if I’d like to add minutes to my pre-paid plan. I tell him that Mike transferred me over for security verification purposes, he takes the last four digits of my bank account number and sends me on my way.

2:36pm – I’m trying to give my ear a break and am seeing if I can address Sallie Mae issues online. The banking account update is fast and easy. There is a little link next to my name that says, “how do I change my name?”. With Sallie Mae I can mail in a copy of any number of identification documents, including a birth certificate. Since my new name is my old name and I don’t have my new license or Social Security card yet that seems to be the way to go. I prep. an envelope with the address and stuff it with a photocopy of my birth certificate and, even though they’re not asking for it, a note with my account number and a request to change my name. I spare them the back story and write on the note that my name is incorrect on my account and needs to reflect the name on my birth certificate.

3:00pm – I will need to change the name on my mortgage but I long ago lost, or never received, log-in credentials with the mortgage servicing company. So, that’s going to have to wait. For today I’ll be satisfied with the small-battle of updating my account information with my new bank account number. I call my mortgage payment servicing line which is actually Western Union Speed Pay. The system is efficient and intuitive and I’m able to access my stored bank account information and quickly update it. After entering the information it gives me three touch-tone options which all involve paying my mortgage. As my mortgage isn’t due until the first of the month and I’ve been advised that early payments essentially go only to interest, I press #4 for “conclude this transaction”. The female robo-voice (Roberta) says, with a detectable hint of snark, “I am unable to conclude this transaction. BYE.” and hangs up on me.

3:14pm – Over it.


Accomplishments: I left a message at Ameriprise, “completed” my Checking Overdraft Line of Credit application with my work phone number, received the necessary documents to change my name with Fidelity, was instructed on how to change my name with CitiBank (which adds a trip to the County Clerk and Recorder), and with Anthem (which requires a trip to H.R.), and updated my account information with Geico, cricKet, and (maybe/maybe-not) for my mortgage payments with Western Union.

Number of Interactions: 13 – Carrie neé Steve at Ameriprise, Jenna and Brian with KeyBank’s Loan Closing Department, Emily with Fidelity, Brenda and Wendy at CitiBank Wealth Management Services, Jessica at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Rob(ot), Dave and Janae at Geico, Mike and Anthony at criKet, Roberta at Western Union Speed Pay.

Money Spent: $o

Time Spent: 3 hours and 47 minutes.

Reviews: Fidelity and Sallie Mae (online) were the only organizations that seemed to have their shit together for name changes. Ameriprise hasn’t called me back and we’re coming up on one business day passing. KeyBank’s loan closing department is excellent at sales. Anthem Blue Cross Blue shield was actually helpful but couldn’t help me. Geico did not live up to my prior experience though much of that was my own inability to navigate their automated phone-tree. cricKet… you get what you pay for… Western Union’s system is very easy but doesn’t seem to work. Overall this was by FAR the most exhausting day despite sitting for the entirety. It may have been the high number of interactions, the lask of fresh air or face time, but after it was all said and done I didn’t accomplish much and I feel like THERE IS A WAR INSIDE MY BRAIN. 

01/11/2013 DAY 05:
H.R. and I.T. at work to change my name at work, my email address and signature line (which I don’t have permission to edit), and to request my name be changed with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Anthem HMO. I may have to sign a new contract with my new name. I’ve got to go into my office and print out my Geico proof of insurence, Fidelity name change document, and make photocopies in triplicate of my name change documents for mailing in to the investment account manages. Linda, my office manager, advised me by email that my department will need to update my email on several contact lists and may have to re-setup my Outlook calendar which “could be a mess”.  She also told me my new business cards have arrived with my soon to be old email on them and they are ready for pick-up…

12:30pm – As I’m getting my documents together to head down to H.R. the mail arrives with my new Social Security card!! Good ‘ol Federal government efficiency!

12:35pm – Off to H.R.. For some reason H.R. is “off campus” and in a high-rise in another part of downtown. The last time I was there was to sign a contract four years ago.

 1:13pm – I arrive at the high-rise. H.R. isn’t on the lobby directory, I kind of remember it being on the 5th floor and press 5 in the elevator. It’s not on 5 so I get back in the elevator and press 10 then start working my way down 9, 8, 7 – floor 7 is an office of the competitions, 6, skip 5, 4, 3, and back out of the building.

1:35pm – Back at my office (remember I’m still on vacation) I google H.R.. Apparently they moved to the new building on the other side of campus. I’m surprised as their move to the high-rise was widely announced four or five years ago and the offices were extensively remodeled. A note to you tea-party wack-jobs: I work for the State Government and this is exactly the kind of waste you’re always crying about. Well I for one am excited to see what kind of new reception area furniture they picked up for the new space!

1:40 - I drop off all the Investment Account disclosure statements and all my old checks in one of the conveniently located secure shred bins in my building and head over to the front office to make triplicate copies of my name change documents, new Social Security card, temporary driver’s license, and pick up my box of 1,000 new business cards with the email that I’m about to go change on them…

2:02 - The lobby of H.R.’s brand new building is stunning!

Look at those light-up stairs! Those must have cost a fortune!

2:09 - Jacquie at the H.R. front desk is one of those hyper-competent administrator types I’ve come to know and love at my job. She’s printing off a flurry of forms to get my name changed and updated in the system, to notify my boss and my bosses boss and my bosses bosses boss, and changed with both branches of Anthem. She needs to see my brand new Social Security card as verification. (Good timing Federal Government!)

2:28 – Jacquie told me my name would be updated in the system by the time I arrive at the I.T. help desk. Luke with I.T. informs me that I need to respond to an email he sends me with an NID (Network I.D.) request. It will take two to three business days and my account may be inoperable for a couple of days after that. (It’s worth noting here that my work went though an institutional name change over last summer including a new domain name and I’m still getting forwards from the old domain. Changing my email suffix will now necessitate double forwarding.) He tells me he needs to ask his supervisor a question about the NID. I overhear his supervisor reply to his procedural question with, “Oh gee… That’s changed… Not sure…”

2:40 – I stop back in the front office and tell Linda (another hyper-competent type) the time frame for the name change and that it should be resolved before I return from vacation. She said “Riiigghhtt…” and accused me of initiating this process so I could no longer receive emails. She also told me she printed-out the next few weeks of my Outlook calendar just in case.

3:11 – I check my Outlook mail and I have three emails; one from Jaquie with my official H.R. confirmation of name change, one from Luke with the NID, and one from I.T. confirming the opening of my support ticket. The email from Luke says “Changing a NID can lead to some serious complications such as corrupting your records and/or possibly losing your E-mail address book and calendar information … Therefore, there must be a legal or urgent reason such as marriage or other legal name change, or the fact that the NID spells a profane or socially unacceptable word or name, before the NID will be changed.”

3:34 – I’ve emailed my colleagues, boss and bosses boss and front office staff regarding my impending NID change, provided alternate email contact, printed out my confirmation from H.R., my proof of insurance from Geico, and the Fidelity change of address/name change form. (Of course the printer is out of paper.) The letter of explanation to CitiBank Wealth Management is going to have to be hand written from home – since I came in from my vacation and have been sitting at my desk for 20 minutes I’m now getting pulled into a meeting… 

3:41 – Heading into a meeting…


Accomplishments: I’ve officially registered my name change with H.R. who has notified everyone and their dog. My NID request has been sent to I.T. for processing which will likely take all of next week.

Number of Interactions: 3 – Jaquie in H.R., Luke in I.T., and Linda in my office.

Money Spent: $0

Time Spent: 3 hours and 11 minutes.

Reviews: I love my job.

01/14/2013 DAY 06:
 DMV (Licensing and Titling Division) and the U.S. Post Office to change the name on my PO Box.

I took the weekend off from my staycation and actually recreated. I did have to deal with some online banking issues and my ex did drop by to sign the Title and Odometer Disclosure Statement and even met my significant other for the first time! Changing my name is providing closure in unexpected ways. I could care less for the last year, since the legal change, but now that I’m close to the finish line I feel a surprising sense of relief and urgency to turn the page on who I was and move forward with who I IS.

~ Interlude – A brief vignette from yesterday.

3:49pm – After trying to log-in four times, my online banking locks. As suggested I call 1-800-KEY-4YOU. And try to make out the genera of the radically sputtering hold music. Is this a Christmas song!?

3:51pm – Deanne answers and in a smoke-rasped voice walks me through a set-up of online banking on my new account. KeyBank has moved to a very creative security question menu which includes information not readily accessible via facebook or public records. My favorite was, “Which bone have you broken”.

~ On to today…

12:59pm – Off to the DMV.

1:08pm – The sign on the front door says, “No food or beverages permitted. Weapons prohibited. All patrons are subject to a search of their person and belongings.” I let my guard down until walking through the door and seeing no security and no metal detector. Come on people! It’s a mass shooting waiting to happen.

1:10pm – There are only nine people waiting. I have C090 and the board is already on C084. Last year when I was here, after I grabbed my number I noticed my proof of insurance was expired and immediately left. I drove across town to my office, accessed Geico’s website via a password retrieval, printed my proof of insurance, drove back, and walked through the door right as they were calling my number.

1:13pm – This time everythings in order. I have my name change documents, Title, Odometer Disclosure Statement, expired registration, current insurance, smog certificate (I had to go to Air-Care twice because someone had stolen the oxygen sensor off my car), temporary license and whole punched picture license. I’m REALLY hoping I don’t have to get another VIN verification. Last year as I was getting my $15 VIN verification the guy told me that all they do is write your VIN number on a form and file it, they don’t enter it into their system or check it against police records of stolen vehicles. When I asked him why the State required it he said, “revenue generation.”

1:16pm – Paula has a white ribbon for Productivity and a blue ribbon for Customer Service pinned on the back wall of her station. I explain my scenario as she looks over her glasses at me. She doesn’t need the Odometer Disclosure Statement but takes everything else, returning with photocopies and a form with my old and new names on it and STATEMENT OF ONE AND THE SAME across the top.

1:23pm – The registration, which I would have had to do regardless, cost $48.20 and the re-titling, which was only necessary for the name change, cost $58.70. The expired tags ticket I got on Saturday as a result of having to do the previous five days of running around first cost $75.00.

1:45pm – The DMV was so short a wait I didn’t have time to complete my Fidelity Name Change Form and CitiBank correspondence. I decided to send CitiBank a photocopy of my certified name change document instead of the sole original copy Wendy asked for. CitiBank robo-signed a few hundred thousand home foreclosures. They should be able to handle rubber stamping my name change.

2:20pm – I’m wrapping up my long form (legal paper) hand-written business-letter explaining my scenario to CitiBank Personal Wealth Management while calling to activate my NEW debit card that just arrived in the post.

2:25pm – I head off to the Post Office with a box of outgoing IS mail and my investment account correspondence and the final mission of changing the name on my PO Box.

2:45pm – The lady in front of me in line at the PO Box is swimming in the same end of the gene pool as me; same height, weight, hair and eye color. She also has a box full of manilla envalopes. We size each other up – me noticing the Christian cross and infinity sign graphic on her envelopes return address and she noticing mine with a return address for Institute of Sociometry. We avoid eye contact for the rest of the wait.

3:07pm – Tran has me add my new (old) name to my PO Box with a simple sheet I wouldn’t even deem to call a form. She says it will change the name on my PO Box – no proof of name change or identification needed. Note to Terrorists: You have to supply two forms of I.D. to open a PO Box but apparently anyone can change the name on it to whatever with no proof of identity, justification, or cost afterward.


Accomplishments: I have a vehicle title and registration with my new name, a new debit card, and an updated PO Box.

Number of Interactions: 3 – Deanne with KeyBank (yesterday), Paula at DMV, and Tran at the Post Office.

Money Spent: $106.98 – though only $58.70 was a result of my name change.

Time Spent: 2 hours and 11 minutes.

Reviews: The DMV Licensing and Titling Division is the sane cousin to the Driver’s License Section criminally-insane felon. The Post Office is exactly the same every-tme regardless of the transaction.  The postal clerks keep everything on a steady 6.5 out of 10. You’ll get it done in under thirty minutes but don’t expect anyone to smile.


Total Accomplishments: I have a new identity and all the supporting documents to prove it! All of my legal and financial interactions can now be done with my legal name. The only area I haven’t dug into is the mortgage on my house. As I’ve reached total saturation of tolerance, and it’s not pressing, the mortgage may have to wait until my next staycation.

Total Number of Interactions: 39

Total Money Spent: $133.13 total – though only $79.70 was a direct result of my name change.

Total Time Spent: 16 hours and 26 minutes.

Final Assesments:
Most Kafkaesque:
 CitiBank Personal Wealth Management for requesting a court certified name change document and a written letter.
 Efficiency Award: Sallie Mae for not making me talk to anyone.
Truest to Form:
DMV Driver’s Licence Section for being a total cattle-drive.
Most Pleasantly Surprising: The Social Security Administration for being kind of… fun!
Best Customer Service: This is a tough one. Paula at DMV Licensing and Titling Division  was earning that Blue Ribbon and is a clear runner up. Oskana at KeyBank had to put in the most work and was pleasant and efficient. Overall I’d say the winner would be Jaquie at H.R. for being so hyper-efficient and enthusiastic.
Best Enforcer:
Anita at DMV Driver’s License Section.
Least Likely to Succeed:
Mike at criKet.

A note on changing your name: There are three ways to legally change your name; with a marriage license (women only), through a divorce proceeding, and in civil-court. A woman with a marriage license can simply present the signed license and an existing Social Security card at the Social Security Administration to receive a new name and Social Security Card. A man can not do the same thing with the same documents. Though the ACLU has been made aware of this example of text-book discrimination by the Federal Government they are under resourced and quite frankly have more important things they are working on. In most States, once the marriage ends either or both parties can have their names changed BACK to their “maiden” names as part of the divorce proceedings – though it’s not official until registered with the Social Security Administration. Pre-Patriot Act a civil-court name change was relatively simple. A brief court appearance before a civil judge explaining the rationale (which could literally be ANY rationale as long as you had one), a court fee, publication of a notice of your name change in a legal journal for three months, and registration with the Social Security Administration. Post-Patriot Act it there are a few more steps: “Contact your local law enforcement office to be fingerprinted. The Court may provide you with two fingerprint cards, or, in the event that your local court does not provide them, your local sheriff’s department should.  You will see a box labeled “Reason Fingerprinted” on the card in the upper left hand corner.  Complete that box with the following: “§13-15-101 Legal Name Change.” It is important that the FBI know that the criminal history check is for a legal name change. Please write your name, home address, and date of birth clearly on the fingerprint card.  If the agency completing the fingerprints uses an electronic print system, please do not write on the cards as the agency will automatically input the information. You are responsible for mailing or hand-delivering the completed fingerprint cards to the FBI. Allow up to 13 weeks to process the criminal history check from the FBI. The criminal history results must be conducted within 90 days prior to the filing of the Petition.  For this reason, it is best to mail your FBI fingerprint card, wait 7 – 9 weeks, and then mail or hand-deliver your State Bureau of Investigation fingerprint card.  You will be provided with a full report from both agencies. The FBI requires an applicant information form to be submitted along with the fingerprint card.  This form, along with additional information on FBI requests, can be obtained at the following link: Mail the completed fingerprint card and applicant information form to the FBI at, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, Attn: SCU, Mod. D-2, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306 along with a certified check or money order. Do not fold the fingerprint card. If you hand-deliver the fingerprint card, you can also pay by cash. You are also responsible for providing certified copies of any criminal dispositions that are not reflected in the Federal Bureau of Investigation records and any other dispositions which are unknown, by contacting the agency where such actions occurred.”

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