When Name Change is not an Option, Then What?

I find myself start writing the second blog in less than a week after the first one, but I believe I can use some helps with my ‘personal’ problem related to my ridiculously long Thai name and last name.

Generally, Thai names are pretty long, especially when spelled out in English. Growing up in Thailand, when I was in pre-school age; I had no clue how to spell my first name—let alone last name. There are 10 letters on my first name and a total of 16 letters on my last. I remember eying my friend sitting nearby, hoping to copy their name. I had done that for a while until the teacher called for a meeting with my parents to address ‘the concern.’ “Your daughter cannot spell her own name and we hope you guys can help her at home,” that’s what the teacher recommended my parents.

At Satit Prasanmitr Elementary School, I wore the school uniform, which required students to have their name sewn on the top left of their shirt. My mom took me to this vendor near Phahurat to pick up the uniform. I remember we had always had to stay a little longer because either they misspelled my name or we got charged a little extra for labor. When living in Thailand, my name didn’t really bug me since it is common for Thais to have long names, but things have changed when I arrived to the U.S.

It started off with an Immigration officer at Chicago airport who was so amazed with my extended version of human’s name. He raised his eye brows, said a couple of “wow” then looked at me. The human instinct in him drove him to ask me how my name was pronounced. So I pronounced. I remember pronouncing my name aloud several times, and of course, he couldn’t say it.

Later on, this similar incident has been happening on a regular basis. Whether I go to a gas station, bank, driver license branch and basically anywhere I’m required to use a credit card and/ or driver license with my whole name on it. People seem to ask me the same questions over and over. It goes like this:
Other: “Wow! Your name is so long” while looking at my card and my face.
Me: “Yup!”
Other: “How can you say it?”
Me: “Er…Don’t worry about it.”
Other: “C’mon…will you say your name for me?”
Me: “Okay…………………………………..”
Other: “Wow! I will never be able to say that.”
Me: “Okay…..Can I get my card back please?”

It is getting better. The worst part is: when one person sees my name, she or he seems not to be able to control themselves. They will ask their friends nearby to look at it. Everyone makes the same gestures…the same exact gesture, and makes the same comment. One time I went to a hospital to get a CT scan, the radiologist saw my name and asked her colleagues in the room to look at my name. We are talking about 8-10 people here—RN, ENT, more radiologists and some MDs. At that moment, I felt like sitting in a zoo, and yes, I was the one in the cage.

After years have gone by, I start getting irritated. (If some of you don’t get it, think about what if you have to pronounce your name to strangers whom you will never meet again on the daily basis.) It starts to bug me so bad.

I am aware that these people just ask out of their curiosity, which there is nothing wrong on that. But I am the victim here. Every day new people will ask me to say my name, which I don’t see any benefit of cooperation. The worst part? I can’t really get mad at an innocent stranger, can I.

I will not take name changes as an option. I love my name and will never change it to make it convenient for those strangers. And for your record, nickname doesn’t cut here. These people who ask don’t know me, so they don’t care what my nickname is. Any clue what I am supposed to do?

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