Last Name


I went to the Indonesian Consulate over a month ago to renew my Indonesian passport, but was told that I had to get a new passport book, complete with a new passport number. Okay, whatever you say, dude. Can I just get a passport please, on time before my flight leaves in a few weeks?

I got my first headache dealing with last name with the “rude dude” working at the Consulate on that day. Actually, it’s not really my first time dealing with this headache. Any married woman living in the U.S. has gone through this headache one way or another. See, the custom in the U.S. is for married women to change their last name, take the husband’s last name, and the wife’s name become a middle name. More often than not, the wife’s middle name ends up becoming just an initial, which bothers me. The thought of losing my family of origin’s name doesn’t settle well with me. My family’s last name, my parents’ last name, is just too important for me to become an initial, or worse, completely gone.

The struggle in deciding what my last name would be after marriage took a while. I contemplated, thought about different options, change or not change, what should I do? If I don’t change, I hear that I may need to always show people the marriage certificate for important situations when our civil relationship status will be questioned, such as buying a car/house, getting a loan, you name it. I remember a story a friend told me one time. Her car was towed by the city. She went to the towing company to get it out. The company refused to let her take the car because the car’s license and ownership is under her husband’s name. Surprise, surprise, she is one of the very few women who decided to keep her name intact and not add her husband’s last name. She was given two choices, either get the husband to release the car or bring back their marriage certificate as a proof.

The most recent solution for this headache of choosing last name for women is a hyphenated last name. I chose it. Makes sense, why not both. I still don’t have to carry the damn certificate all over the place (it’s not a small piece of paper, you know). And boy, am I glad to pick that decision, and here’s why.

The rude dude at the Consulate looked at me blankly when I explained my last name situation. He said one thing when he saw the marriage certificate in my hand. Well, actually, he was kind enough (*sarcastic tone*) to take it and bring it closer to his eyes to read. Then threw the paper back onto the table, saying “Nggak laku.”  It’s roughly translated to “This doesn’t mean anything.”  I gritted my teeth quietly. Ouch, hurt.

The name on my passport ended up to be exactly the name I was given by my parents on my birth day.  I was worried there for a while, wondering whether I may come across difficulties at the airport immigration in both countries during my trip.  But one thing I was very glad at that time is on the fact that my Indonesian name shows up on both my passport and marriage certificate, if anyone ever doubts my identity. I ended up dragging the damn marriage certificate on my trip, along with other documents that I deemed important. Just in case. I was damn paranoid and worried at that time. I get nervous anytime I have to deal with the Immigration people in any country. Luckily I didn’t encounter any problem during the trip.

The only one problem I have with having a hyphenated last name is when I’m being asked by people to give my last name. The confused, blank “huh” look I get from people can be pretty entertaining sometimes. At other times, it can be annoying too. Worse is when they ask me to spell it. I said, “No, better yet, why don’t I just let you copy it yourself” and hand the person my driver license.  😀

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7 thoughts on “Last Name

  1. Eh, konjen Houston nggak rude orangnya.. Aku adding last name ya no problem tuh.. Lagi sial kali Lyn? 🙂 Well, at least it is over now, and you don’t have to deal with it again.

  2. haha emang sih common nya last name nya sama ya kalo suami istri disini tuh…
    waktu kita ngurusin loan juga paperwork nya sempet salah tuh gara2 komputer escrow nya otomatis kalo spouse itu pake last name yang sama. padahal last name kita beda. 😀 ya kudu lebih teliti aja dan diprotes. tapi bisa kok diganti… gak sama last name nya gpp kok… 😀

    kalo untuk car registration kayaknya emang cuma 1 nama ya, gua lupa juga. tapi untuk car insurancenya kan bisa taroh 2 nama sebagai spouse juga. jadi bisa buat bukti tuh kalo kita emang suami istri.

    • @Arman:
      Tapi masalahnya kok disini culturenya harus ganti nama gitu loh untuk istri. Kok di Indo nggak perlu? Is it a matter of convenience then? I don’t know, just wondering who made the rule long time ago to be this way. Pusing jadinya. Ganti2 nama juga kan bikin puyeng. Harus ingat semua account untuk ganti nama, mulai dari kartu kredit, sekolah, kerja, insurance, membership here and there…blah, the list seems so long sometimes. Dan kalo ada yang lupa diganti (karna pasti ada yang lupa diganti, ketahuannya kadang2 sampe berbulan2 nanti), harus dig lagi itu marriage certificate. Kadang kalo certificatenya hilang, harus minta lagi ke downtown city office. I sound complaining, sorry, but I feel like the headache of being confronted by “last name business” happens way too often than my comfort. But hey, thanks for the comment! And keep writing!

  3. padahal orang2 di Indonesia malah pakek nama yang kebarat2an lho..tetangga saya itu namanya wahyudi, anaknya yg pertama namanya michael, yg cewek namanya michelle

  4. i had a teacher back in high school who, right after she got hitched, sometimes forgot her new name and used her old one. understandably. i mean, how can you be jane smith your whole life then one day you wake up, sign some papers and tadaaa… you’re jane jones?
    i too didn’t take my husband’s name. and i’d only do the hypenated last name thing if he’d do the same. just to be fair 🙂

    • Haha…I like that. You’re right, if the wife has to do the hyphenated name, then why not having the same thing done for the husband, which would be fair. I think the underlined question here is why do the wives have to change last name and not the husbands? I think we both know the answer… who made the rule, right? 😉

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