Well, so far so good. I took the metro and bus combo up to the hospital. The rest of Madrid was going to work and looking pleased about having to do that.
Once inside, I announced my arrival at the reception desk where I ran into the typical trouble regarding my name. You see, the Spanish can sometimes have enormous difficulties accepting the fact that I only have one last name, and they can’t really conceive of having two first names, though I can’t understand why because I know plenty of Spaniards with two first names. But it doesn’t matter, the Spanish somehow feel that am losing out on something and constantly stick a first name in where a second name should go, or a middle name in where a first name normally finds itself, and a second surname where none exists. On an official level, I believe my name has been registered in so many ways that I could get accused of fraud.
My name is Brian Richard Murdock. I try to avoid using my middle name for obvious reasons, but it does help distinguish, just in case of the unlikelihood of there being two Brian Murdocks in the same doctors office at the same time. But if not, I stick to the bread and butter approach.
“Let me see…I can’t seem to find you.” She ran her finger back up the list. “Oh, here you are: Richard Murdock, Brian.”
“No, it’s just Murdock. Just one last name.”
“It’s not Richard Murdock. Just Murdock. The name is Brian. Or Brian Richard.”
“Really? Ok Richard…”
“No, it’s really Brian. Brian Murdock. The Richard is just a second name. But you can forget about it. Brian Murdock is the real name.” It was too late. Richard is a far more common-sounding moniker to them than Brian. There was no turning back.
“Don’t worry Richard we will change it. Thanks. Just wait over there for a few minutes.”
Twenty minutes later I get called us over to the admissions room under the name Richard. The woman was nice and greeted me warmly. “Welcome Richard. Do you have all your papers with you?”
“I think so. By the way, my name is Brian. Just for the record.” I didn’t want them to confuse me with someone else and get a bypass by mistake.
“Oh, I see you’re exactly right.” That was good. I usually do get my name right the first time round when asked.
Then I handed over a ton of papers and she handed another ton back to me which I was supposed to sign. The kind of things I worry will come back to haunt me down the road, like agreeing to some organ donation for the black market or paying a supplementary fee for using the toilet. I always take a few minutes to look over the details because I know my father would be proud of me, he being a lawyer and everything, but the truth is I barely look at a word. It’s all there for effect and to impose respect from the very beginning. Just in case they think I’m not reading, because I’m not, I bring something to their attention, like the name of the doctor being different from the one who was supposed to operate on me, and we just wanted to make sure that everything was in order. The name happened to be the head of the medical team under which my surgeon was working, and I knew it, but I just wanted to make sure just in case. Plus, it looked professional on my part.
Then she asked me to wait outside a few more minutes, thanked me and wished me luck. “Bye Richard.”
I prayed these mishaps remained at an administrative level.