Saturday, June 03, 2006
A rose by any other name...
Over the years, I have had many nicknames: Phoebs, Phoebster, Phoeb-O, Beefie, Beefstew, Beefster, Swissmiss, Dork, Punk... All nicknames bestowed upon me by people who love me and know me well.
However, thanks to the growth of a trend in recent years - coffee shops and take-out restaurants that require me to give my name before they can process my order - I have had some of the most memorable and unbelievable nicknames bestowed upon me.
Now, having a rather uncommon name, I'm used to people asking me how to spell it. I'm used to people not hearing it correctly over the phone ("Stevie?" "BB?" "CV?" (now have any of you seriously ever heard of someone named "CV"?)), because it's hard to hear, and they don't have the added bonus of being able to see my mouth as I pronounce it, ever so slowly and with as much diction as possible.
However, in this new consumer world where every barista and cashier is required to ask for my name along with my order, a whole new world of names has been born.
The first time this happened, I was getting take-out Japanese food. The man asked me for my name, and I gave it to him "Phoebe." "What is it?" he asked again. "Fee-Bee" I replied, this time a little more slowly, to be sure he got it.
He printed out my receipt and told me to wait for my meal. I looked down and there it was, still the best butchering of my name I have ever seen: Fiben (which, in case anyone is wondering, I like to pronounce "Fibben" even though it looks more like "Fye-ben"). That became a nickname of mine among the friends I was with that day, though it never caught on further than that.
And so it has continued: men and women, young and old, ESL and native English speakers - all uniting with one common goal: to come up with the most creative spelling/butchering of my name.
It works like this:
* I walk up to the counter and place my order.
* Employee asks for my name.
* I say my name clearly and smile.
* Employee types my name into computer or writes it on a cup.
* I wait for my order, and when it arrives, so does another creative spelling.
And so this blog begins with a shout-out to all the people in the food service industry who keep me smiling day-in and day-out without even knowing it.
Carry on, creative spellers who moonlight as baristas. You have no idea the joy you bring to my life.