a wandering woman writes

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A wandering woman, by any other name...

Well, it's official.

Leave it to me to have to keep up with the Garcías and los Fernández.

I am proud to announce I now contar con not one last name, no, not one measly anglosaxonized Irish surname but a full fledged double-appellido Spanish moniker.

At least in the depths of the Spanish Social Security administration's data system, that is.

I owe thanks to the shockingly persistent staff of the Social Security office in Salamanca, who spent much of Tuesday morning attempting to give me online access to the administration's web system. I urgently needed a document for my residency renewal, and getting web access to print any report I'd like any old bureaocratic day of the week seemed the best solution.

Until we asked the system to grant me digital permission to access data.

The problem showed its face quietly at first.

I began to pick up barely audible rumblings from the far side of the desk.

Pero sólo tiene un appellido.
But she only has one last name.

The rumblings soon grew in urgency and volume.

¡Pero ES que sólo TIENE uno! ¡Bueno!

The database that so cooperatively registers the euros it extracts from my bank account every month flatly refused to recognize a social security participant with one last name. It folded its arms and stuck its tongue out at us. Two last names or the database wasn't playing.

Of course I couldn't be the first extranjero with one surname. But the system had decided I was. What were we to do?

My now fully committed funcionaria quickly typed "no consta" in the field for the second surname, which would have christened me "Erin Corcoran NotApplicable", more or less. I could live with that.

No luck.

I suggested we simply grant me the surname of our choice, leaving
a small clue to its questionable origins.

My suggestion? "Erin Corcoran Ninguno".

The funcionaria then offered me García, far more elegant, until we remembered that the social security payments the system tracked for Erin Corcoran García wouldn't be mine. Which was the point, after all.

After a call to another office for help, we entered the symbol stage.

And after noble attempts with X's and dashes and a brief dalliance with the asterisk, a new social security paying Spanish resident was born.

Erin Corcoran ~~~

But you can call me Señora Corcoran TresGuiones.



  • Very interesting story ~~~.

    I hope you didn't have to marry a keystroke to get the name... ;-)

    By Blogger Yarbz www.juggernuts.com, at 5:00 PM  

  • Ah, but yarbz, this is Spain. Marrying won't change my name. :-)

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 6:35 PM  

  • Erin, that was just too funny! I wonder what my husband will have to do if we ever move permanently to Spain.... I, on the other hand, was quite happy to have extra room to put my many apellidos while I was in Spain ;) I have two from my father and one from my mother but I have to confess I didn't really follow the system very well since I didn't use one from my father and one from my mother as first and second apellidos, I just used the ones from my dad... Bu that's ok, since it's all I have on my italian passaport anyways (the willy Italians refused to put my mother's name as part of my name - even though that's what is in my birth certificate and she's the one passing me an Italian citizenship, go figure).

    Aww, names, last names, which ones to use, what does it mean in terms of identity... I've been struggling with that since I married a canuck and moved to Canada 8 years ago. Luckily, I married in a provice that like Spain, doesn't allow for name changes when you marry otherwise it would have just added to the mix ;)

    I've missed your posts and you make me miss Spain even more than I normally do...


    By Blogger AlexiaGB, at 3:44 PM  

  • Erin,
    Don't you have a middle name? When I got my Spanish NIE, the Spanish authorities took my entire name as it was written in my American passport, which happened to include my middle name. So now all the Spanish documents I have, (my bank account, my NIE, my Spanish credit cards), all have my first name, my middle name and my last name. To me it looks weird, because I don't use my middle name at all in the U.S. But here in Spain, my middle name is listed as my first apellido.


    By Blogger EuroMadrid, at 3:40 PM  

  • Oh, dear Mrs tresguiones, I am still laughing at the things you tell us, please more....

    By Blogger June, at 10:30 PM  

  • Hi! I found your page googling «Oda al Tomate», of all things. Your life and mine are reversed. I came back from Spain after 24 years to relocate in the U.S. (don't ask me why, I needed to get my head checked, long story.) I am now living in Texas, married to a Mexican. Go figure.

    I had to deal with the "no 2nd surname" thing when I first went over there. But since I was not receiving funds or anything else from the U.S., I had no problem using my mother's maiden name as a second surname. By the time I left Spain, most government documents, as least my NIE residence card, allowed for foreigners to have only one apellido.

    Fun reading about someone starting out in Spain... like I did all those years ago.


    Catherine Ortiz

    By Blogger Ortizzle, at 7:16 AM  

  • How about Erin Corcoran Salamantina...

    By Blogger Cream, at 9:14 PM  

  • I like it! Very decorative :-)

    By Blogger christina, at 10:49 PM  

  • Hi Alex! So good to see you here. (All of you, I need to post more so I can see all of you here, don't I?) Yeh, I have figured out your appellidos in Spain (should you not arrive with two, firmly set in place) is pretty much whatever the first funcionario gives you! For some odd reason, Euromadrid (and hello and welcome and thanks for the comment), my first funcionario decide to hyphenate my first and middle names so no one could confuse my middle name for an appellido. God forbid. On all official documents, hell, even when I go to the doctor here, I am Erin-Patricia. So that left us with odd keyboard symbols, apparently :)

    Saludos, Ortizzle..I'll be over to visit your blog. It is fun to meet someone who did this in reverse!

    As usual, Cream you come up with the perfect creative solution. But too late! And thanks, Cristina, I rather like the ring of it too, plus, I like this symbol for a name thing. Eat your heart out artist formerly known as Prince.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 11:37 PM  

  • Hi Erin: After going to our family reunion on Sunday and hearing about your blog from your mom, I decided to look you up. After one click of the mouse, there you were, or at least I think you are my cousin. I read most of your adventures and read some identifying information, so I think it's you. If not, there is another woman out there doing what my cousin is doing. I'll be in touch, if you would like. Peggy.

    By Anonymous Peggy Back "Home", at 10:28 PM  

  • It's my cousin Peggy!!
    Yep, I'm thinking I'm your cousin Erin, Peggy, because I'm pretty sure my Mom mentioned a Corcoran shindig this weekend. I'm a little embarassed; this poor blog has been all but abandoned lately. Sure my mother also mentioned I'm trying to plan a walk across Spain...which is keeping me from here more than I'd like. So go back in the archives, will you? You'll find a familiar cast of characters. :) And yes! Be in touch! My email is on my profile -- click through from the top right of the page.

    It's my cousin Peggy!! ;) you did surprise me, thank you....

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 10:39 PM  

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