Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What's in a name? Mary Agnes

My name is Mary Agnes---not Mary Alice, not Mary Ann, not Murray Angus....  I was named for my two grandmothers--and believe me I got the better part of both of their names (Yvonne Emmeline--excuuuuse me!).

It's amazing how many people don't hear the second part of my name.  Yes, they are usually Northerners who aren't accustomed to double names.  How can anyone think that when I say Mary Agnes, I mean Mary????  It really isn't the same.

Now I must also tell you that I will answer to anything.  For years (when I was a skinny Minnie), I answered to Trubey (who is also still a skinny Minnie) while at wholesale markets or in Needle Nicely.  I didn't want to embarrass people by correcting them.  I knew who I was.  Trubey wasn't there, but everyone thought of Trubey when they thought of Needle Nicely.  Definitely not a problem. 

And when customers come in and greet me or call on the phone, I don't correct them when they call me Mary Alice or whatever--thank you for coming in or calling me.  I'm grateful for your business under whatever name.

BUT, when I call you to place an order and tell you "I am Mary Agnes from Needle Nicely in Vero Beach",  I expect you to say "hello, Mary Agnes ".  I definitely  don't expect you to say, "Hi, Mary...what can I do for you". 

I grew up in Maryland and went South to North Carolina to college. I thought I was Southern because my parents were from Virginia.  It wasn't for years that I realized that while I was Southern in upbringing and slow speech, I wasn't really Southern.  I couldn't imagine being married to someone who called me Murray.  I look around when someone says that, looking for who they are talking to since it can't be me.  That explains why it took me years to meet someone to marry--he's from New York City.  Obviously, I should have headed North to college instead of South!!!  Though my mother believed the reason I stayed single so long was because I trained as a librarian.  It's hard to fight against stereotypes!!

The final irony is that while I have a wonderful memory for names, I seem to have a mental block against all Mary variations.  I can remember Dominique or Valvoline (a private joke about the Bahamas I'll explain some day); I have difficulty remembering customers with names like Mary Kay or Mary Sue.  Don't ask me why.

And this causes me to remember a wonderful, outspoken customer from our early years in Vero Beach.  She reminded me so much of a North Carolina customer that I always erroneously referred to her by the incorrect name.  When I rhetorically asked why I always did this, she responded quickly--"because you're stupid."  She had me!!

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