I covered a press conference Thursday, the ribbon cutting for a new senior housing complex, and chief among the speakers was one of the tenants, a little 74-year-old lady they all called Lucy.
She spoke warmly about the building and how nice it was to have a new, clean, safe place to call home. She shook hands with Gov. Baldacci and helped cut the ribbon. I double-checked her name and moved on.
Afterwards, Photographer Jose Leiva and I talked with her about the building, and she invited us up to see her new apartment. She was very proud and very thankful that she had this new home.
Anyway, she was showing us around her new kitchen and I saw this black-laquered sign: “Welcome to Nancy’s kitchen.”
“Who’s Nancy?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s me,” she said. “It’s my middle name, but it’s the name I go by. It’s the name I prefer, actually.”
She’d been named after an Aunt Lucy she wasn’t all that fond of and her mother called her Nancy. I asked how she wanted to appear in the paper. Nancy please, she said, relieved that someone had actually asked.
Up to that point, I guess, nobody had asked. They’d relied on the names on written on legal forms at first and then it went on from there. And she too polite to correct anyone.
Later on, the public relations folks sent out their release, identifying her as Lucy. And a local TV station showed footage of her, and there was Lucy. After the event, people walked by, shaking hands and thanking her and calling her the wrong name.
All along, she was too sweet, too courteous to correct them. She’d be in the paper now as Lucy if I didn’t see that sign, and those clips would always remind her of an aunt she didn’t like very much.
No moral here, no big story. I’m just glad I asked her name.