As a card-carrying member in the class of the privileged, at one point in my life I accidentally graduated from a university with a degree, with no plan or understanding of how to use said degree to make that sweet cash we all want.
This sheet of paper means a lot to a lot of people. For some, it is proof of all the hard work they’ve put in to prove to themselves and the doubters that they could accomplish the feat. Their parents and grandparents and aunts and their one uncle who once got drunk and alluded to setting up a situation in which you wouldn’t want to find yourself applaud them as they walk across a stage, wearing a silly Hogwartsian outfit, to pick up the paper with their calligraphic government name inked right in the middle from a dean never named Dean.
While I never had any intention to join the parade of gown-attired in their stage walk so I could proudly move a tassel from one side of my head to another, I was to have the diploma mailed to me so that I could stuff it in a drawer somewhere.
I was filling out the mail-order application, and the first box to be filled out stated, “Write your name as you wish it to appear on your degree.”
My name generally bores me, other than how it makes me a true Smithsonian. However, there is a name I know of that not only doesn’t bore me, but elicits eternal feelings of love and peace and understanding, which I would be happy to represent. My name as I wish like it to appear? Ian Jesus Smith.
I got my quick chuckle, filled out the rest of the form and sent it off, forgetting instantly about my new middle name.
A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from a woman at the university who wished to have “a little chat”.
“Your name that which we have on file is Ian William Jones Smith. However, you indicated a different name on the application.”
Suddenly remembering what I’d flippantly filled out on the form, I replied, “Oh right. Yes, I wanted to have a different name on the actual diploma.”
“Well we’re going to need proof that this is your legal name.”
“I didn’t realize it had to be my legal name. That wasn’t made clear.”
The back-and-forth continued for a while, each of us restating our positions while unreasonably never actually saying the name in question. Finally, she had had enough of me, and right before slamming down the phone, yelled, “I REFUSE TO WRITE IAN HEY-ZEUS SMITH ON YOUR DIPLOMA! I’M PUTTING DOWN THE NAME WE HAVE ON FILE!”
I couldn’t possibly let it end there, no ma’am, no how, so I immediately called the provincial government’s Department of Name Changes and asked them what I need to do to legally change my name. They told me to send $20 in gold bullion in envelope to a PO Box in Trout River, addressed to my desired name. I did just that, and a week later received a new birth certificate, driver’s license and plaque commemorating the Ocean Ranger disaster.
By that point the university identified that I’d been paying Will Ferrell’s speed-eating character from Undeclared to write my papers since the get-go, so my retribution against the religious yeller, while well-executed, became moot.
[Editor’s note: Jones does not appear in the author’s actual name but here it is used in place of the actual mother’s maiden name, redacted for fear of identity theft, as it was likely used as a security question answer somewhere along the line.]