Friday, March 26, 2010

What's in a name?

What’s in a name?

Now I’m not a parent yet, but I do know that one of the most difficult things to do when you are expecting a child is to pick out a name for your child. You do this with the utmost care and love, knowing that this is the name your precious baby will carry their whole life through.

When I was still renting a womb from my Mom, my parents decided that I, unlike my sister and my two cousins, would NOT have the middle name Rae. I was to be given my mother’s middle name of Susan if I should turn out to be a girl. They decided on the name Stephanie for me. They did not, however, agree on the spelling of that name. My mother wanted the (what I consider to be) traditional spelling, “Stephanie” and my father wanted to spell it “Stefani” like Stefani Powers. They argued over this issue after I was born. My mother, being the devious type, waited until my father left to get some lunch and then filled out the birth certificate without him. Thus Stephanie Susan Christianson had entered the world.

What my parents didn’t know yet was that they had apparently given me the wrong name.

On a daily basis at work I am called by a variety of names other than the one so lovingly and painstakingly picked out by my parents. I answer the phone, “Pacific Building Center True Value, this is Stephanie. How may I help you?” I am greeted in return with, “Oh hello Bethany.” “Hello Tiffany” “Oh, hi Daphne” “Hi Becky” “Hi Christy” and so on… Now the first 2 I can understand. They do pretty much rhyme with my name, and on the phone I can understand the confusion. Even Daphne I guess I can understand, but really, how do Becky or Christy sound like Stephanie? One day I was on the phone with a vendor and I was placing an order and he said, “Ok, give me your name again.” I said, “Stephanie” he said “Ok, thanks Bethany.” I said, “No, my name is Stephanie.” He says, “Bethany? B-E-T-H…” I interrupted, “NO, Stephanie! S-T-E-P-H-A-N-I-E!!” He apologized, got my name correctly on the invoice and we moved on.

I know that I shouldn’t let it bother me as much as I do. But that is one thing that has the power to really rankle me.

My Facebook friends will already know a little of the back story of the customer who calls me Jennifer. (Actually he calls me “Yennifer” because he is Hispanic.) He has called me this for at least 2 years now. One day, more than a year ago, he called me Jennifer and then looked at my name tag, which clearly says Stephanie, and then asked me what my name was. I told him it was Stephanie. The next time he was in he said, “Hello Jennifer” and I didn’t bother to correct him.

This has been going on again until today. He called the store to find out if the thatcher was available to rent today, and when I told him it was, he said he’d be in to get it in half an hour. Then he said, “Thanks Stephanie.” He was in the store 15 minutes later and when he walked in he said, “Hi Jennifer” This afternoon when he returned the thatcher he walked in and again said, “hi Jennifer” and I helped him with grass seed and fertilizer, I helped him unload the machine from his truck and load the fertilizer and seed into the truck. When we were finished, he said “Thank you Jennifer.” Then he looked at me rather quizzically and said, “Jennifer??” I smiled and said, “It’s Stephanie.” He started apologizing and I told him, “It’s ok, I answer to just about anything.”

This story reminds me a lot of another customer we had, more than 10 years ago now, I had a man come into the store and buy some stuff and pay with a credit card. The name on the credit card was “Tim Bird.” He became a regular customer, in several times a week. He set up a cash account to get a discount on his purchases. The cash account was set up under the name of Tim Bird. Every time he was in, we’d say “Hi Tim,” and “Thanks Tim” and that year when we sent out our company Christmas cards, we included Tim on the list because he was such a nice guy. When Tim had been a customer of ours for over a year and a half, we were talking to a former (and now current) co-worker of my dad’s who worked at another lumberyard in the county, and he said that he was sending Fred Bird up to our store to get some stuff. We had the stuff pulled aside and all ready for Fred, who we figured must be Tim’s often mentioned brother. Imagine our surprise when “Tim” walked in the door. After all this time we finally figured out that Tim’s real name was Fred and that he was doing all this work for his brother Tim, and so that’s why he used his credit card and set the account up under his name. We asked him why he never corrected us, and he said, “Oh, it’s ok. I don’t mind.” My mom said, “But we sent you a Christmas card under that name.” He said, “I know, I told my brother, ‘Isn’t that nice, they sent you a Christmas card.’” To this day, I have never met the real Tim Bird, and sadly Fred, having finished up the work for his brother, moved away before we could get used to calling him by the name that his parents had so lovingly and painstakingly picked out for him.

1 comment:

  1. Frickin' hilarious. Those who are stunned that I'm not a boy (Rikki, really?) usually call me Nikki, Vicky, Micky, or - my favorite - Rikki? Like Rikki Tikki Tavi?