I have been living a lie.
There I said it.
Actually I’ve been living in deceit for 10 years.
However, I do want to go “on the record” to say I didn’t do it on purpose. And without sounding like my kids when they were in fourth grade, it really wasn’t my fault. I would never intentionally misrepresent myself or defraud my country.
But to come clean, my name on my old passport for the past 10 years was “Janet Hommel Margas” — the “r” was supposed to be an “n.”
I’m not even sure how the ba-jeepers it took me 10 years — 10 whole years — to remedy the situation. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “That is totally outlandish Janet, you had 3,650 days — 120 months — 10 whole years — to fix this!”
I renewed and received my new passport in July 2007 and I’m sure the first time we used it was in August of 2007, when it became mandatory to have passports to cross into Canada. We had passports previously, but all three daughters received theirs also — (please note that on several occasions, the Canadian/U.S. customs officers actually commended us for having state identity cards for our daughters when they were very young, which kind of makes me a super good citizen.)
I’m not even sure when I first noticed that I was really Janet Hommel Margas and not Steven Mangas’ wife. You must realize that after vacations are over, like most other families, we unpack and place our passports in the designated lockbox and forget about them until they are needed.
This is what I did when I went to Mexico to build homes — three times. And each time I pulled my passport out a few months before leaving, I would get a sick feeling in my stomach that reminded me that again I had not fixed this computer error and it was again too late to do anything about it — and that I may be the only person in the group to be denied entrance.
My pulse quickened and my blood pressure rose annually when we went through Canadian customs, Cayman Islands in 2010, Mexico in 2009 and 2012, it was in India in 2009 or 2011. I was pulled into a special area to be questioned.
As I followed the nice customs officer to the boxed-in area, I internally began to debate with myself whether I should practice saying: “My name is Janet Hommel Margus” or “soooo … my kids keep me really busy.”
I went with honesty is always the best policy especially when dealing with a governmental officer — and I showed them my driver’s license (spelled correctly) and my plane ticket (spelled correctly) and explained the innocent clerical error that happened when my passport was typed.
They kindly let me enter their country. (Although one astute officer, who obviously loved math, did note that “it has been four years since your passport was delivered.” Details, details.
My new renewed passport has my name spelled correctly, but sometimes just for fun I stand in front of the mirror with a suit on and practice saying my name like the James Bond movies: “My name is Janet — Janet Hommel Margus.”