When I started school, I told all of the kids to call me Mer because I hated my full name. Most of them had no problem with my request, except for the teachers due to legal reasons.
I don’t know why I disliked my full name so much. I suppose that I just preferred the shortened version of it because it sounded less formal.
I grew up with friends who would call me on the phone, asking “Is Mer there?”
My Uncle Jerry insisted on calling me Merry Teresa or Merry T. Sometimes, he would forget and simply call me Teresa. I have always loved my middle name and wished that I could go by it.
I got my chance back in 2007.
I applied for a cook job at a daycare center. I had a few years of kitchen experience under my belt and really wanted to take the next step of being in charge of one. The daycare had about 150 children in attendance. Easy peasy. I made some kickass mac and cheese.
The only problem? I had worked at a different location right after I left my ex and sadly got canned from the job because a toddler got bitten by another one under my care. It was an unfair situation if you ask me. My coworker was on a bathroom run and my back was turned on the kids in the playpen because I was changing a diaper.
At the interview, I had an idea. It had been 5 years since that had occurred so maybe if I told them that my name was Teresa they wouldn’t catch on that I had previously worked for them. All I did was tell the lady that I went by my middle name.
I know. Dumb, right? But I was willing to give it a shot. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel.
And by golly, it worked. I got the job on the spot.
I had to buzz myself in every day, remembering to say, “It’s Teresa!”
I almost flubbed it a few times but walking up to the door repeating Teresa over and over helped.
If someone was calling for me, I would ignore them for a minute until it dawned on me.
Boy, I loved that job. Everyone liked me.
Or they liked Teresa, anyways. I was like the fucking popular girl in high school.
I had a great relationship with my boss, a pretty blonde woman named Jessica who visited me every morning while she ate her fat-free yogurt.
My kitchen was also the break room. It was a tiny space with ancient appliances but I somehow managed to make it work. I ordered the food, planned the menu, cooked the meals, cleaned and served the kids. I even helped out in the baby room to get extra hours.
I got caught eventually when the co-owner was passing out Christmas bonuses.
“You don’t get one yet,” she said to me. I just smiled and replied I figured as much since I had only been there about 4 months.
“Did you work for us back in 2002?” she asked suddenly. I almost dropped the spatula I was holding.
Oh fuck, the jig was up!!
“Yes,” I answered, clearly nervous that I was going to get canned yet again by the same company.
“I’m willing to let it go. You do a great job here. Merry Christmas, Teresa.”
I was stunned. “Merry Christmas,” I responded.
I was still employed. God bless us, everyone.
To this day, that job, the one that I had for just under a year, remains my favorite. If they hadn’t decided to whisk me away to the brand new state of the art daycare center 20 miles away with a bitch of a director, I probably would have stayed until I became wicked kooky in 2011.
I missed my shitty little kitchen and my friends so badly.
I ended up at a factory making medical supplies where I got to wear a lab coat with my name on it.
It said, Merry. But eventually, most people just called me Mer.