I experienced a new low in the failures of our educational system, and the hiring practices of the state, while at the California DMV today. Today I reverted my legal name back to my birth name. After my court appearance I went to the DMV to get my license updated. My previous name was Christopher Michael Knight, and my new (yet, old) name is Christopher Lee O’Halloran. After reading and re-reading my court forms, the DMV worker says to me “We don’t use the hyphen.” “Umm, what hyphen?” I ask. “This thing right here, we don’t use that.” “You mean the apostrophe?” I ask. Her response was “Whatever it is called, we don’t use it.”
It would be bad enough if a grown adult, employed in a position that requires paperwork processing, doesn’t know the functional difference between a hyphen and an apostrophe; but to not even know the names and differences in the written characters was a bit surprising.
Given that it apparently doesn’t require a fifth grade understanding of English to get a DMV job, and they say that once you have a government job you are employed for life, then government work is the US version of ‘the dole’.