Friday, January 19, 2007

Yes, that's right: Lex Luthor wants a cappuccino

Oh, the things we do to keep life interesting. Yesterday, Pop Candy linked to an article from the Roseville Press-Tribune (CA) which highlighted local Starbucks customers that give fake names for their drink orders. The question was then put to readers: How many of you do the same thing?

I've done it for years. It's not necessarily because I'm trying to be clever or funny (though that's often a motivation). No, it's because people get the name "Ian" wrong so frequently. Whether it's picking up a take-out order, waiting for a table at a restaurant, or getting a coffee at the few local cafes that ask for customers' names, my name somehow gets butchered along the way.

Sometimes, it's mispronounced, like EYE-on or EEE-on. That doesn't happen as much anymore, however, now that "Ian" seems to be more of a familiar name. But more often than not, my name somehow gets changed to "Ann," "Ethan," "Owen," or "Dean." If I have to spell my name, I know what's going to happen.

Friends can vouch for this, as they've been with me at bars or other such waiting areas, almost losing a table because we had no idea who the host was calling. Usually, after a name is called two or three times with no response - especially if it somewhat resembles "Ian" - I'll go up and check. And of course, the requisite teasing soon follows.

So I often feel the need to resort to fake names. I usually go by superhero secret identity first names, like "Clark," "Bruce," or "Peter." Going deeper into the superhero handbook than that risks making the joke too obscure, so no one would get it. Of course, no ever really has, since those names aren't exactly unusual. Maybe I should try "Hawkman," and see what happens.

Once in a while, I use a TV character's name. But unless it's something like "Kramer," no one's likely to raise an eyebrow. More often than not, I just use my father's name, Dennis. Easy enough to pronounce. And common enough not to be misunderstood.

It's not meant to draw attention. I just want the person at the counter to get my name right. A deli I used to frequent rather regularly after work eventually caught onto me, once asking "Who are you today?" And I'm pretty sure after I ran through the ninth or tenth name, a couple of coffee shop baristas knew I was up to, as well. That's okay - I just move on. Plenty of other places in this town.

Anybody else out there leave a fake name when picking up a drink or take-out? And if you do... why and what names do you use?

▪▪ Here's what they think on the subject over at Starbucks Gossip.