Nothing sucks the soul right out of you like a business trip. With all the stresses jet lag, airline nightmares, weather difficulties and hotel beds pile on, I found even the smallest thing would set me off. Last year, during a particularly long NorthEast business trip, I had trouble getting the Starbucks across the street from our SoHo office to get my name even close to right. Even the right gender seemed to be impossible for them.
About 15 years ago, our local coffee shop had a barista who was having difficulty with writing “Colleen” on the cup. After asking me to spell it 3 times, he looked at me and said “New name is Jill”. I took that as a gift, and for the next 15 years, I used Jill at every coffee shop I visited in Europe, Africa, Asia, Canada and the US. What worked in Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Paris, Prague, Cape Town, and Dubrovnik did not work in SoHo. Three times, it did not work. Go figure.
For some reason, this particular Starbucks decided Jill really was “Joe”. The first time it happened some guy really named Joe walked off with my coffee, and I ended up having to drink his because they were too busy to make me another of my order. I hope he enjoyed my Decaf Skinny Vanilla Latte better than I did his Caramel Macchiato. After this, I felt I was justified in having a bit of fun with these folks.
Just to make sure my friends could join in the fun (humor is best when the laughter is shared), I took to social media looking for names to use during the rest of the trip. My friends and connections were enthusiastic in their suggestions, and thus, The Name Game was born.
The first name I tried at another location in Midtown was Hortense, pronounced the French way. “Or-Tonse”. I figured that would throw these folks for a loop. I stood by the counter smugly, and was immediately accosted by a lovely young lady barista who told me in perfectly accented, way-more-fluent-than-I-can-speak French that Hortense is her aunt’s name back in Port-Au-Prince and how lovely it was to meet another one here in America. I couldn’t exactly back down at that point… After a short conversation, she and I took a selfie for her to send to her aunt, and I’ve never been back to that particular coffee place again. Nope. No way….
Even with that rocky start, I’ve played The Name Game on every business trip since then, choosing one name for the trip, and seeing what I can get as far as really funny spellings. I’ve been Ursula, Agatha, Agnes (pronounced in French), Constance, Athalea, Hildegarde, and whatever else my friends would suggest. All with varying success as far as hysterical misspellings.
With my business travel nearing its end, my husband suggested “Phoebe” for this last trip, and I thought that was pretty cool. The first morning’s iced selection had a pretty typical misspelling, and while I was a bit disappointed, I kept going. Once again, my circle had a field day encouraging me over social media, suggesting I change my name from this trip to Elphaba, Galinda, Heloise, and some other really cool names that I knew I just couldn’t pull off with a straight face. Others encouraged me to stick with it, saying that I was bound to come up with a real winner at some point.
I was almost hoping I wouldn’t get a real doozy, because then I would need to find another name and I wanted to be able to use this one for a while longer. After Phoebe was spelled correctly at two different coffee houses, I figured I’d give it one more try while waiting for my delayed flight home.
I struck gold. LAX Terminal 1 Starbucks FOR THE WIN. I will never get a better misspelling. Ever. Now I have to figure out a new name for my next trip that has the potential to top this one. I would be grateful for any suggestions you may have, dear reader. Please write them below. I will mention the winner in my next blog post on the topic, along with pics of the cups.
Febee, signing off.