I am having a horrendously bad day. Thus, I am writing today about something that happened to me in approximately April or May of last year. Enjoy.
I've mentioned, without giving out all that much detail (I hope) that I work in a secure facility. Thus, I need to have a security badge. So the guards can make sure that I don't, you know, want to set off a bomb or whatever and I can get into buildings and whatnot.
I had worked at another, similar facility which was less high security and I had a badge while there, so it should have been no big deal whatsoever to go to the badge office and pick up a new one. I was told by the friendly lady at the receptionist desk that it would take 10 or 15 minutes, tops. The friendly lady efficently and politely helped me and pointed me in the direction of the "badge office".
Then, I met Barbara. The badge lady.
I walked over to her office which had a large sign on it that said, "BADGE OFFICE." She was inside, having a conversation on the phone with someone about her mother's surgery. Since I think it's kind of rude when someone walks in your office without being invited (and it happened to me a whole lot of times so that's probably why I think it's rude) I waited outside the door. She saw me standing there yet made no effort to wrap up her personal phone call.
Finally, she completed her call. She hung up the phone, stood up, walked out the door, shut the door and locked the door. She stated to me:
"I'll be right back in a minute. I've got to go down there to the Building XYS and give this here package to Susie Soandso, but if you just stand right here I'll be right back here in a minute."
Okay, she probably could have made the trip and been BACK by the time she said her speech. But whatever. I was patient and I stood, waiting.
Finally, she came back, unlocked her door, had a seat in her chair, motioned me in, smiled sweetly and said, "Can I help ya?"
I said, "Well, I need a badge."
She nodded. "All day long, everybody needing a badge! Badge, badge, badge all day long!"
I looked at the door to verify that, indeed I was in the BADGE OFFICE. I was.
I smiled at her.
She asked me for two forms of I.D. I handed her my drivers license and my social security card.
Now, I have a very unusual last name. Well, it's not unusual in say, Germany. But it's unusual in the United States. And people often spell and pronounce my name incorrectly. I'm used to it and I try to spell my name for people so they don't mess it up. I assumed since I had handed her my social security card and drivers license there would not be an issue with my name.
However, I had underestimated Barbara the Badge Lady.
"I've never seen Wronglastname spelled like this before!" she exclaimed.
"That's because it's not wronglastname," I said politely. "It's mylastname."
"But that's not the correct spelling," she insisted.
"No, it's not the same NAME," I advised her. "See, wronglastname has a D and mylastname had a B."
"I don't want to spell it wrong on your badge," she said, patiently. For clearly, she was convinced that I had no idea how to spell my own name.
"It's correct as shown on my drivers license and social security card," I said, politely. But through gritted teeth.
"Well, that's fine. It's on you if your badge is wrong. You'll be the one who has to come down and fix it, not me."
Then, Barbara told me she would have to take my photograph for the badge. I sat down in the chair that she designated and waited.
"You have a lot of hair," Barbara informed me, as this, also, was something I would clearly be totally unaware of.
"Yes," I said. What else could I say?
"You could get a lot of money for that hair," she said, nodding wisely.
"Um, excuse me?" I said.
"People pay cash money for hair like that," she said.
"I'm not really interested in selling my hair," I explained.
Again, I looked around in case I was in the CRAZY OFFICE instead of the BADGE OFFICE. But no.
As she began to get me into "position" for my photograph and then stated:
"Your hair is not going to fit into this picture."
I said, "Um, I'm sure it will be fine."
"No," she said, dramatically. "NO. You have to look like your picture. If you don't, the guards have guns and they will not hesitate to shoot you."
With my death pending due to the fact that I have long hair, I tried to think of something, ANYTHING that would get me out of the BADGE OFFICE.
So I said, "Um. That's okay."
Barbara the badge lady sighed a huge sigh.
Finally, she processed my badge, all the while talking about the surgery she recently had and how tired it made her and how people bothered her all day long for badges.
She handed me my badge and said, "You can come back by if you realize your name is spelled wrong!"
God Bless you Barbara the Badge Lady. And God Bless everyone who darkens your door.