My Name Is Not Et Ux

My Name Is Not Et Ux

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

My Name Is Not Et Ux

Doing the right thing has power.

~Laura Linney

I was summoned to the school office to take an “important” phone call while the principal himself covered my fourth-grade social studies class. “It’s your bank,” the secretary informed me before handing over the receiver. “They’re verifying your employment for your house loan.”

“It seems we have an… irregularity… in your paperwork,” the voice on the phone informed me. “Do your children live with you full- or part-time?”

“I have no biological children,” I replied. “My husband has two children who live with their mother, and they visit him every other holiday and a few weeks each summer.”

“But it says the co-borrower pays child support,” she continued.

“That’s right. I’m the borrower, and my husband is the co-borrower.”

“That’s highly irregular,” she said.

“He’s a commercial fisherman,” I told her. “My teaching income is the one we wish to base the loan on. It’s more dependable. His income fluctuates with the fish.”

“Oh, my,” she stammered. “I’ve never seen paperwork with the wife listed as the primary borrower before.”

I laughed. “Get used to it. It’s 1984. I guess I’m just blazing the trail here.”

“But what if you get pregnant and take a leave of absence?” she asked.

My hackles clearly rising, I said, “I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for you to ask me that.”

She cleared her throat. “In order for us to approve this loan, we have to take everything into account.”

“My husband and I could both quit our jobs tomorrow,” I replied, my voice going up an octave. “To ask me if we plan on having children is completely out-of-line and offensive, and…”

I stopped speaking abruptly when the school secretary put her hand on my shoulder. She leaned in close to whisper in my ear, “You want to get a loan or not?”

“Ma’am?” asked the loan officer. “Ma’am? Are you still there?”

“Can we start over?” I took a deep breath. “I am listed as the borrower because I am, and always will be, the primary breadwinner. I saved up all the money for the down payment myself out of my own income while also supporting my husband and paying the child support for his two children.”

“I see.”

“I sincerely hope you do. I’ve worked hard to be able to buy a house, and I’d like to buy this one with a loan from your bank. How can we make that happen?”

Fortunately, we were able to make my dream come true, and I was elated — until the day the official bank papers arrived. Printed at the top of each payment coupon was my husband’s name and “et ux” printed behind it.

I called the bank and asked to speak to our loan officer. “Et ux?” I asked, bewildered. “What in the world does that mean?”

“It’s Latin,” she replied. “It means ‘and spouse.’ ”

I could feel the heat rising up my neck. “It’s my loan, my house, and my payment coupons,” I began softly, “and my name is not ‘et ux.’ ”

“It’s policy for us to issue the coupons in the name of the borrower and…”

“We’ve been all over this,” I said through clenched teeth. “I am the borrower, not my husband. Unless you want to receive checks signed ‘et ux,’ you’re going to have to reissue these coupons.”

It took some time, a few more phone calls, and a personal visit to the bank president, but I did, indeed, get my name listed on the coupons. And they did, indeed, have both our names at the top — except his name was listed first.

I called the bank and asked to speak to our specific loan officer, but she was away from her desk, so I was connected with another bank employee whom I was told could help me. “Could you please explain to me why my husband’s name is listed before mine on my payment coupons?” I asked politely when the call was transferred.

“We always list the man’s name first,” he replied, “since the man is the primary borrower.”

Wrong answer. If he had said the names were listed alphabetically, I could have let it go. But once again, I had to explain that I was the borrower, and he was the co-borrower.

“That’s highly irregular,” the bank employee began.

I started to laugh uncontrollably. “Irregularity seems to run rampant at your bank,” I finally choked out. “It’s 1984, and I’m determined to eradicate this old paradigm once and for all.”

“Perhaps you’d like to talk to the bank president,” he said.

“Perhaps I would,” I agreed. “I’ve got trails to blaze.”

The third time was the charm, and the new payment coupons, with my name listed first, were issued the following week.

~Jan Bono

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