11/14/2014 01:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What's in a Name? Plenty--and Don't You Forget It!

"Lev" isn't a common name in Michigan so I'm used to people not hearing it correctly and asking in person if it's "Les." Over the phone they might think I said "Len" or even "Lez." Seriously.

Lately, though, I've been confronted by an even more annoying name problem. I'll check into an office or a pharmacy where I'm picking up a prescription and when they ask me my name I do what everyone else in the country does and is expected to do. I give them my last name: Raphael.

But I get the brainless question, "Is that your first name?"

I put it up with it for a handful of times and then one day I snapped. I'm not sure why. I just stared at the minion on the other side of the glass and said, "Are you kidding? Why would I give you my first name?"

That flummoxed her. And I was on a roll. "This is a doctor's office, right? I'm here for an appointment. How would you be able to look up my medical records if I gave you my first name? Does anyone coming into this office give you their first name? Or did you think I was just trying to make a new friend?"


I received a glare and a snippy response of "I'm just doing my job."

"You're raising my blood pressure is what you're doing."

And I was right, because a few minutes later, when it was taken by a nurse getting my vitals, It was higher than it had ever been (I'm always around 120/80).

Maybe I should just change my name to Raphael Raphael and the next time I get the question I'll just say "You figure it out," and go sit down.

Lev Raphael's 25th book, Assault With a Deadly Lie, is a novel of suspense set in a fictional Midwestern college town. You can check out his other books here.