People often wonder why I am so adamant about always using my middle name, especially on legal documents. The image and the link at the end of this story not only explain my cause but they prove my case. Nevertheless, its a fun story . . . sort of.
When I first moved to San Marcos in 1979, I was working at Taco Bell and looking forward to the day when I could attend Southwest Texas State University to finish what I had started in San Antonio. I showed up to work one day and my coworkers commented that they had seen that I had a DWI. I assured them I had not but they did not believe me and produced a copy of the local paper with a list of indictments from the Hays County Grand Jury. Sure enough, my name was on there: Stewart Spencer.
Now my first and last name are not that unusual but the specific combination and spelling is not common, especially within a limited geographical area. Ever since that day, this other person has been a pebble in my shoe. I don’t think he knows that I exist but that doesn’t matter. Years later, when I first started working at the San Marcos Housing Authority, a coworker called me and said she had heard over a police scanner that I had been mugged at Springtown Mall. She was calling to see if I was okay. Nope. Not me. I recall hearing that his story may have been fabricated.
Almost 10 years ago I bought property in Hays County, just northwest of San Marcos, but when I arranged to move my telephone service I was told by the phone company that I had an unpaid bill and had to pay that before they would move my service. Mind you, I had phone service at my San Marcos apartment for about 5 years before this came up. Upon investigation, I found that the unpaid bill was from the 1990s, during a time when I had a completely different number at another San Marcos address. Apparently they had tagged my Social Security number to the number of this other fella when he walked on a bill. The problem required the personal intervention of the local top dog of the telephone company before it was resolved.
Over the years I found that whenever I had reason to call the police to report some kind of concern, such as a loud and late party down the street in that college town, they thought I was the other guy and seemed to doubt the veracity of my information. Finally, a sympathetic dispatch operator told me that whenever I called, I should say, “I’m not the 96.” That was their code for people with mental issues. After that, I always got a laugh on the other end of the line when I would say, “This is Stewart Dale Spencer. I’m not the 96.”
It got even more fun, if you can call it that, after I moved to that property in the county. The other guy just happened to move out of San Marcos to another area of Hays County at the same time. Consequently, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office became familiar with him. I did not know about this but discovered it after I began to get strange reactions from Sheriff’s Office dispatch when I called about things like a brush fire that was not being supervised.
Fortunately, a patrol supervisor was a friend of mine and he advised the dispatch folks that whenever Stewart Dale Spencer called, he should be taken seriously because he was not the other Stewart Spencer who lived in Wimberley at the time.
In early 2007, when I saw that he had been indicted for a serious crime, I knew I needed to take pre-emptive action. I contacted the editor of the San Marcos Daily Record and he kindly posted a clarification so that I could say, in effect, “I didn’t do it!”
I managed to misplace my copy so many thanks go to Robin Wood and Dr. Arro Smith of the San Marcos Public Library for finding it in their archives and sending it to me. The Daily Record has changed ownership and they no longer had access to the electronic archives of the previous owner.
Why am I boring you with this story? It came up again in a recent custody case. The lawyer had no problem using the Internet to find information on the other Stewart Spencer, who has a different middle initial by the way. It then dawned upon me that this might explain a few things. Anyone taking the time to look it up could easily confuse me with that person and it would certainly affect what they thought of me or, in some cases, whether they would even talk to me again.
I am seriously considering changing my name or perhaps just dropping my first name altogether. “Hello. My name is Spencer . . . Dale Spencer.” I have always liked my middle name. I was given that name in honor of my uncle on my mother’s side. (Hi Unkie Dale!)
A person’s reputation and their good name is a valuable thing. I don’t want mine to be tarnished by the actions of someone else. I prefer to do that myself. Or maybe not. Anyway, see all the details here: Indictment Clarification
The second page shows the original indictment list. The third page shows the clarification in context with the rest of the page published on March 4, 2007. The defense rests, Your Honor.