I've only left the United States by way of ship, so I've never had need for a passport. I've had to show my birth certificate; which, by the way, I have the original one my parents received from the hospital. Now, however, I have need for a passport.
I filled out the forms I'd downloaded from on-line, and along with my birth certificate I attempted to apply for a passport on my lunch hour. As it so happens, my original birth certificate isn't enough, it has to be a certified copy from the state. No problem, I can call Indiana and have them send it to me.
Indiana isn't so easy to get a hold of, as it turns out. But I'm persistent, and after holding and being transferred from one recording to another, I'm directed to an on-line site. With a small fee, my certified copy is on it's way.
Within a week I receive my certified copy. I open it before putting it in my bag and notice that my last name is spelled incorrectly. Okay, so...it didn't really take that long to get it from Indiana, no problem...right? I'll just call them the next day and have them correct it.
I'm so silly.
As I get the paper work out the next day before I call, I also notice that not only did they misspell my last name, but they misspelled the last name of my parents...and they've misspelled it differently from the way they misspelled my last name. I go through the same maze of automated extensions (does anyone remember when you could actually call a company and a real person answered the phone?) and reach a woman who, very probably, has the flu. I felt so sorry for this woman that I wanted to pay for her doctor visit. I regress. I told her of how the last name had been misspelled in two places and in two different ways. She said that, yes, she did see the problem, that the last name had been misspelled on the line of my parents. I said, yes, that was true, but it was also misspelled on the line with my name. She very hoarsely asked me to hold...I held for awhile. But hey, she was probably in the bathroom or getting a box of tissues. I sounded like her a few weeks ago, so I'm giving this sweet thing the benefit of all doubts. She comes back on the line and tells me that no, my last name had been spelled correctly.
She said that the way it's spelled on the certified copy they sent to me is how the state of Indiana has it filed, that I'm the one spelling it incorrectly. I am 100% serious. Who knew? I told her "Hon, I'm looking at my original birth certificate and it's spelled correctly on it. I do believe if I'd been spelling my last name incorrectly for the last 54 years, one of my parents would have corrected me." She asked me to hold. I brought solitaire up on my computer at work and had nearly finished the game before she came back. She asked me for my dad's date of birth. Does anyone know their dad's date of birth, including the year? I mean, I was pretty sure of the date, but the year? I told her to hold on while I researched it on-line. So, she and I chit chatted while I pulled up a copy of my dads obituary on-line and read her his date of birth. Again, I hold. When she returned, she told me that it appeared the doctor that delivered me misspelled my last name when he filled out my birth certificate for the state. I don't know how that is possible, when I'm holding my original birth certificate, which, I might add, is in incredibly excellent condition, and it's spelled correctly on it. Regardless, now the state is sending me forms to fill out and have notarized that my father is my father. When they receive those forms, they can correct my parent's last name, which in turn will correct my name. In all honesty, I'm not convinced, but we'll wait and see.
My trip out of the country will have to happen a little later than planned. But, what I find odd is that my social security card that I got as a teenager had my name spelled correctly and the IRS never had any trouble with my name...how funny it's not been caught until now. I suppose, since I'm changing my last name back to this maiden name soon, it would have been discovered sooner or later. But how funny that I'm just now finding out that, according to the great state of Indiana, I've been spelling my last name wrong all my life. You'd think that's one thing I could have been sure of.