Named And Shamed

, , , , , | Working | January 25, 2018

(I live in a Swedish-speaking area and have a Russian surname. It’s by no means as complicated as some Russian names can be, but some people still tend to skip saying it, referring to me by my first name, or by my first name and the first letter of my surname, especially in class or when I’ve booked something under my name. I’ve long since gotten used to that, even if it bothers me sometimes, but this girl takes the cake.)

Me: “Hi, I have a breakfast reservation under [My Name].”

Worker: *snarky* “Oh. Right. You’re the one who booked under that name.”

Me: “Er, yes?”

Worker: *laughs* “I’m not even going to try to say that.”

Me: “Okay. Thanks?”

(I mean, come on. To all who struggle with foreign names, sometimes it actually feels better if you try and fail to pronounce our names, rather than just publicly declare you won’t be bothered. We’re part of our community, too.)

The A-Grade Is Silent

, , , , , , , | Learning | January 23, 2018

(I have just started college, and all the freshmen have to take a “How to Succeed in College” course. My name is Aileen — pronounced “I-lean” — which is an unusual spelling of an old-fashioned name. The first week of class is the only time my teacher takes attendance. She does so by passing out the attendance sheet while going over the syllabus and having us all mark our names. The next class, she tells us that she is going to give us all numbers, and to put those down instead of our names on everything. I enjoy school, and while overall I am fairly shy, I do like to participate in class. As long as I know the subject being talked about I can talk your ear off. As soon as something flusters me, or I don’t know the correct response, I clam up. During the fourth class, I raise my hand to answer a question.)

Teacher: “Yes, Ellie?”

Me: “It’s ‘Aileen.’”

Teacher: *laughing* “Oh, Ellie, you have such a sense of humor.”

(I’m not really sure how to respond, and so far my schooling has taught me not to talk back to teachers. I let the subject drop and answer the question. From then on my teacher only calls me Ellie. I try a few times to tell her my name is Aileen, not Ellie, but each time she just laughs and calls me silly. She hands back all of my tests and assignments just fine and I get good marks on everything. So, I drop the matter and just let her call me whatever she wants. At the end of the semester, I look up my grade and find that I have failed the class. I email the teacher in confusion, asking her what has happened.)

Teacher: *via email* “I’m sorry that you are unhappy with your grade, Ms. Aileen, but my records show that you never participated in class. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a grade you did not earn. Please re-enroll next semester. You must finish this class before you are able to take your major requirements.”

(I go to my school counselor, not sure what to do. They set up a meeting with the teacher and me to try to figure out what is going on. I go to the meeting at the appointed time and walk in to find the teacher and counselor talking. The teacher looks up at me.)

Teacher: “Ellie! What are you doing here?”

Counselor: “Her name is Aileen, not Ellie.”

Teacher: “No, that’s just a joke between us. I thought we were here to discuss…” *she pronounces my name A-lean*

Me: “The A is silent; it’s pronounced ‘I-lean.’”

(The meeting was very awkward after that, but the teacher did fix my grade. It turned out there was an Ellie in the class who never showed up. The teacher gave her my grade. I never really figured out what was going through that teacher’s head. Thankfully, I never had to deal with her again.)

Very A-Mew-sing

, , , , , | Working | January 17, 2018

(One day I get a call from a telemarketer. I’m alone in the house, aside from the family pets.)

Telemarketer: “Hello, I am calling from [Company] about [something we don’t need]. I need to speak with Timothy.”

Me: “Um, well, there is a Timothy here, but I’m pretty sure he’s not the one you want to talk to.”

Telemarketer: “If Timothy is there, put him on the line! This is extremely important!”

Me: “All right. If you say so.” *holding the phone towards Timothy* “Timothy, you have a phone call.”

Timothy: “Meow!”

(My dad and my cat are both named Timothy.)

A Name To Remember

, , , , , | Right | January 11, 2018

(I have a name that, while uncommon, is very short and very phonetic. Unfortunately, nearly everyone consistently mispronounces it with a name that’s more complicated to say. For example, if my name was Ann, people always mispronounce it Anya. Generally, when I correct them, customers apologize and move on.)

Me: “Hello! How are you today?”

Customer: “I’m fine, thanks… uh…” *looks at my nametag* “Oh, thanks, [Wrong Name].”

Me: *smiling* “Oh, it’s pronounced [My Name].”

Customer: “Well, I’m just going to call you [Wrong Name], because [My Name] is stupid and hard to pronounce.”

(I immediately see red, because I’ve given him no reason to be rude about my name. Without really thinking, I snap back at him.)

Me: “No, you’ll call me [My Name], because that’s my f****** name!”

(As soon as I finish speaking I slap my hands over my mouth, horrified that I’ve sworn at a customer. Other customers in line gasp and look at the current customer for his reaction. He looks just as shocked as everyone else.)

Customer: “You… I… Well, you…!”

(I start to reach for the button to page my manager, thinking that’s what he’ll ask for. But he throws his head back and laughs!)

Customer: “Okay, okay! Fair enough! That was a really d*** thing to say, wasn’t it? I’m really sorry.”

(The other customers visibly relax and I slowly move my hand from my mouth.)

Me: “Oh… Uh, it’s okay. Thanks.”

Customer: “No, no, it’s not okay! I was really rude! Go on; tell me I was rude.”

Me: “Um… That was rude?”

Customer: “There you go! I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to upset you; I’m just a moron who can’t keep his mouth shut. Thank you!”

(He gathers his bags and leaves without further incident. My manager, having heard the story from a coworker, comes over and sends me on my break while she finishes my line of customers. When I come back, she has an envelope in her hand.)

Me: “So, am I in trouble?”

Manager: “Nah. That was actually pretty funny! Oh, that guy came back and asked me to give you this.”

(When I opened the envelope, there was an apology card and a $10 gift card inside. To this day, my coworkers introduce me to new hires with this story.)


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They’re Terrible At Names

, , , , , | Working | January 8, 2018

(My first name is Jamie, which is my given name. People generally call me this, but I often run into issues with the older generations who think it is a nickname. A manager has recently joined the company and has been trying to send me a document via email.)

Manager: “I keep sending you the email. Are you sure you aren’t getting it?”

Me: “I’m certain. Have you been replying to the email I sent you?”

Manager: “No. I don’t think it’s professional doing that.”

Me: “You could copy the email address from it.”

Manager: “No, I’m not that tech savvy. Let me take it down again. ‘James–’”

Me: “Jamie.”

Manager: “Yes, James.”

Me: “No. My name is actually Jamie.”

Manager: “Jamie is a nickname. You must be called James.”

Me: “No, I’m telling you it’s Jamie.”

Manager: “I’ll check with IT.”

(He leaves for half an hour and returns.)

Manager: “They say they won’t change your email address.”

Me: “Why would they even do that?”

Manager: “Because you can’t use your nickname. It confuses people.”

Me: “It is not my nickname. It is my actual name.”

Manager: “They say you need to call them and confirm. I suggest you do it quickly; this email needs to be sent!”

(He left again and I didn’t call IT. I decided to come in with my birth certificate the day after. He refused to believe it and demanded to see the “real” certificate. At this, I just gave up. He continued to try sending emails to me, and moaned when I didn’t receive them. Thankfully he wasn’t actually my manager, being in a different department, and the documents he was sending weren’t important enough for me to fuss over. My actual manager, however, has a sense of humour and finds all of this hilarious, and refuses to do anything until the other manager calls me Jamie at least once. IT can add a James variant to my email, but as it is an addition and not a straight-up change, my manager has to approve it. I don’t think anything is going to change anytime soon.)

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