Sunday, March 28, 2010

Maggie's Cleaning Service

I went to dinner with one of the college students last night. Now that she's in college, we go to dinner every once in a while to talk and catch up. As she has continued in college, she has found that, unfortunately, most of her friends from high school did not. Though she keeps up with some of them, most have babies now and she doesn't feel like she has a lot of similar interests. I am so impressed with her determination to persevere on her own. She often feels like the lone rider on her trek to graduate from college.

I am in awe of her hard work. Not only does she commute an hour back and forth to Denton each day to attend school at UNT, she also works with her mom cleaning houses and mentoring her brothers and sister. She's the oldest. She wants to ensure her siblings move in the right direction as well so despite her exhaustion, she makes sure to help them with homework, talk to them about college, and help the oldest brother try to figure out what he wants to be and encourage him to find a direction after high school.

When we get together, she often tells me about working for people who have so much money that they don't have to think about if they can afford something. She never speaks with any condescension. As she tells me, it's always with surprise that people can afford stuff at a whim and with no thought about the cost.

Last night as she was talking, she said one day she wanted to hire "Maggie's Cleaning Services" to clean her house. Since I knew she and her mother clean houses, I thought maybe her mom worked for someone else and that was the name of the company. She laughed and said, "No, I joke with my mom and call her Maggie because the people she works for call her that. I guess they think 'Margarita' is too long of a name to say."

We laughed about the ridiculousness of that. Quite honestly, I was rather irritated and appalled. Who gave anyone the right to change or shorten her given name? Why do people think they can do that? Does Margarita sound too Latino for them? I'm guessing 'Maggie' sounds more like a name in their community so they just decide to call her that. How insulting!

I always remember my mom telling me, "I named you Janet. If I would've wanted you to be named Jan or Janice, I would've named you that." I don't like when people change my name for me. I understand an unintentional mistake, but I will correct them if they call me something other than my name.

I'm going to try not to speculate and make comments about why I believe people have shortened Margarita to a more childish sounding name like Maggie. Instead, I'm going to hope they are reading this and have an a-ha moment of how degrading and insulting that is. I hope they will apologize to Margarita and any other people they might have disrespected in that way and make it a point from this day forward to take the time to learn and pronounce each person's given name no matter how different it sounds to them.

Names are important. We were each given a name and unless we decide to change that name, it isn't anyone else's right to change it for us.
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