Tale of a Trailing Spouse

American expat in Singapore. A career, friends, family, and place to call home–I gave up life as I knew it for the possibility of life as it could become. Seven years later as a seasoned and serial expatriate, I've lived in four countries on three continents. So far, it's been a wonderful ride!

What is in a name?

Soon after I’d outgrown my Barbie but before I was old enough to date boys, I would spend hours writing my signature over and over again.  Mind you, this wasn’t a random or obsessive-compulsive exercise. Despite my tender years, I practiced signing my name with purpose. I knew that some day I was going to become either Mrs. Sean Cassidy or Mrs. Andy Gibb, and would therefore need a glamorous autograph to match my famous husband’s. And so, I wrote all the variations in as fine a cursive as I could muster.

Diana Cassidy

Diana Gibb

Diana G. Cassidy

During this process, I took a lot of time considering my Ds.  Did I want a big loop or a smaller one? Did I want a scrolling loop? Or, should I opt for a more casual D, so it didn’t look like I was trying too hard?  These were tough, but potentially life-altering questions for the future Mrs. Sean Cassidy/Andy Gibb. I spent hours on the first letter of my name, leaving me little time to decide whether I should dot my i with a heart.

My dreams of marrying either heart-throb eventually faded, and I never worked on my signature again. Despite all the hours of practice in my youth, Mrs. Diana Mahmoud ended up with an average John Hancock. While my handwritten name isn’t glamorous, it is, at least, legible–which is more than I can say for Mr. Mahmoud’s chicken scratch that passes off as his signature.

Like you, I’ve signed thousands of pieces of paper throughout the years without really giving it a second thought. Why would I? Never once had the authenticity of my signature been called into question–that is until I moved to Singapore.

For the third time in two months, my bank denied important paperwork because the handwritten name on the form “didn’t match the signature on file.”  This problem, which is equally annoying and amusing to me, has caused repeated delays in a time-sensitive matter. Last week, I decided to head off further controversy (and potential government action) by taking a signed, fourth form along with my passport and official Foreign Identification Number to the bank for final approval.

I reasoned that having proof of identification in hand would automatically solve my problem, but it didn’t.  The bank teller politely explained that my signature was still an issue because it didn’t look enough like the digital copy of it on file at the bank.

“What about Mr. Mahmoud’s signature?” I inquired.

“Mr. Mahmoud’s signature is fine,” she replied.

I couldn’t help but scoff. If you saw my husband’s signature, you would too. Mr. Mahmoud might as well be signing his name with an X because this would at least be a recognizable character.

Sensing my frustration, the teller offered to let me re-do the official bank signature card because it had caused so much trouble in the past. She also instructed me to write my name exactly the way I had signed it on the form to avoid confusion. And just as I did when prepping to be Mrs. Sean Cassidy/Andy Gibb, she even took out a piece of paper so that I could practice.

Mrs. Diana Mahmoud

Mrs. Diana Mahmoud

Mrs. Diana Mahmoud

No matter how I tried, I could not sign my name exactly like I did on the form.  The problem was the damn D and specifically the loop, which was sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller, and sometimes scrolling too much. While my signature is legible, it is, apparently, not consistent.

Eventually, the poor teller accepted a version of my handwritten name. And, only after taking both my passport and FIN number as proof, had her supervisor approve the form. Success!  However, I know it’s only a matter of time before my inconsistent signature again causes me problems in Singapore.

Maybe it’s a good thing I never became Mrs. Sean Cassidy/Andy Gibb because my autograph would never have been up to snuff.  Or perhaps, my bank would love my handwritten name more if I started dotting the i with a heart.  I’m going to try this the  next time I have a problem and report back to you.

11 comments on “What is in a name?

  1. kenju
    February 24, 2013

    How frustrating. It is comforting to know, however, that someone, somewhere checks those things. I think sometimes that an 11 year old boy with red hair could steal my driver’s license and use it with no problem (despite the obvious differences.)

    • Diana Mahmoud
      February 26, 2013

      I know that it’s better that someone actually looks at the signature to prevent fraud. I just wonder if there isn’t a better way.

  2. Lynn
    February 24, 2013

    I agree, this is a very frustrating quirk here in Singapore, which we too have experienced. *sigh*!

    • Diana Mahmoud
      February 26, 2013

      It makes me feel better that I am not the only one! The teller sort of made me feel I was.

  3. I often sign my husband’s name on credit card transactions (sshh don’t tell anyone). Thankfully so far no one has said anything. However, I have had plenty of cheques back because part (a very small part) of my signature has gone outside the black box.

    • Diana Mahmoud
      February 28, 2013

      Oh no! I’m definitely an outside the box kind of gal too. Thanks for the warning!

  4. Naomi Hattaway
    February 27, 2013

    Maria just wrote about banking conundrums and I shared about mine in response … must be something in the air!

    • Diana Mahmoud
      February 28, 2013

      An epidemic! I wonder why nobody warns you before coming about this peculiarity?

  5. emilyemcgee
    March 3, 2013

    This is so crazy. I have never, ever heard of anyone getting denied bank access/services because the signature didn’t match. I guess on the one hand, maybe you should just be glad that your bank has such tight security? It is ironic that your husband has no trouble though. Maybe they have a bias against nice cursive.

  6. ncholet
    March 9, 2013

    We’ve also had this happen a few times. I’ve signed “wrong”, had a trailing line go outside the box. Not written the name of the payee EXACTLY the way it’s supposed to be, didn’t add a comma in the right place, etc. Yes, it’s unbelievably annoying. Sorry you had to waste so much time at the bank this week.

    • Diana Mahmoud
      March 12, 2013

      But at least my paperwork was approved after two long months. Whew! Now I wait for the next near catastrophe!

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This entry was posted on February 24, 2013 by in Expat Life, Silly me, Singapore and tagged , , , .

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