Before I committed to opening a publishing company and doing this full time, I’d done a variety of things to pay the bills—aside from the 22 years I spent as a dental technician. My first jobs were lawn care and dog sitting. Before I had a driver’s license I hustled peanuts, popcorn, coca cola, and hot dogs in the upper deck of Three Rivers Stadium. For two and a half years I worked in a hardware store where I learned there are usually a thousand different names for the same part. I’ve done construction and demolition, worked retail and security, even done some less than savory jobs like breeding rats for the Pathology Department at the University of Pittsburgh. I’ve produced with my hands as well as my head.
So, imagine my surprise when I was reviewing the paperwork for refinancing our house. Aside from the fact that they used three different versions of my name, they had my occupation listed as homemaker.
I have nothing against the hardworking homemakers of the world and while I realize there is a certain amount of uncertainty involved in the publishing field these days, listing me as a homemaker just didn’t seem quite accurate.
But that’s only part of the story.
We started this process back in May with the bank where my wife works. Because she works there, we were being very careful not to step on any toes. In fact, I sat in on the initial phone call and from that point on, let my wife handle it because she is more patient and has a more pleasant demeanor and this was the company where she works after all.
Through June we went back and forth. The paperwork I offered them in May (which they said they wouldn’t need) was requested one document at a time over the course of three weeks. It was agonizing and the team that handled it was incompetent. There is no other way to put it.
We were finally scheduled to close on Monday, August 5. They brought the paperwork right to the house, but what they brought was the exact package that we had rejected and asked them to restructure the last week of June. They had ignored everything we said. And so, they were forced to deal with the less patient member of our household: me.
I’m an ultimatum kind of guy. You’ll get it right, or I’ll take my business elsewhere. I won’t go into the details of my exchange with the office, but the paperwork they had spent 10 weeks screwing up was rewritten and signed by Friday, August 9, but here’s the catch: They still had two different versions of my name on the document only this time they used one I’d never used—ever. It’s something they apparently made up. BUT—on the good side—where it appeared, it was listed as an AKA.
It really rankled me to have to sign my name this way and I do wonder if there was a person with this name and if he has done things that might now cause me grief, but we were anxious to get this over with and, given my experience with their vast abilities to screw things up, I had no faith that they would get it right if we kicked it back to them anyway. So we signed. The deed is done.
But then there’s that matter of occupation. I asked the contact person about it. I told her I realized that being a paperback book publisher may not ever put me on the Fortune 500 and asked how I’d become a homemaker. She said they were not using my income because self-employment makes for more complicated paperwork. So—in short—I am a homemaker on the paperwork for my new home loan because my job does not make a significant enough contribution to the household income to be considered.
Homemakers of America should be up in arms over that statement, but me… I learned back in my hardware days: There are a thousand different names for every part. I see they’re still inventing new ones every day.