Saturday, February 9, 2008

Rollen, Rowland, Rolland...

Having an unusual name is "charming." You learn to deal with it. Take people's weird looks or weird spellings in stride.

Today's title is taken from the variety of names written on my Starbuck's cups over the last week or so. I usually just go for coffee, so it's rare for me get my name on a cup. But, three wrongs in a row (one Americano, one "we're waiting for the coffee to finish. Can I get your name?" and one chick who I think just wanted to know my name...) and you have something to write home about.

I used to hate my name. When I jumped from elementary to middle school, I started off my new school as "John" instead of "Roland." I hated being Roland and all the stupid nicknames that they threw at me.

It worked pretty well, that change to John. I had gone on a YMCA camping trip for two weeks over the summer. I'd made friends with a couple of guys who were "above my station." Since they'd called me John for those two weeks, they set the stage for all the people to call me John at school, too. I couldn't have asked for a better setup. I wasn't just called John. I was John. Along with 50 other Johns, of course.

Of course, all it took was one cute girl (Hi, "Julie from middle school," and thanks) to screw this up.

"Roland is a cool name," Julie had said, and I now I regretted the switch.

The switch back was not as smooth. It took more time. Years later, people still called me John.

At this point, as an adult, the only downside to my name is having to spell it out and/or repeat it all the time.

"I'd like a Venti Americano, Starbuck's girl."

"Can I get your name?"


"Excuse me?"


(blank or uncomfortable look)

"Roland. R. O. L. A. N. D."

She scribbles it on the cup. "Cool. Thanks, Roland. We'll call you when it's ready."

It's a daily thing, pretty much. I like to think that it helps them remember my name, but they don't seem to have a problem remembering my friend Scott's name and he doesn't have to repeat it, much less spell it. So, I think it's just more work to reach that same point. I wonder what extra things Scott gets accomplished with that spare brainpower?

Oh, the coffee's ready! "Americano?"

Oh look, she's holding up a cup that's very clearly labeled "Roland." My first one ever!

"Americano for Ronald?"


I keep telling myself that tomorrow, I'm John. But, it's just not the same.


  1. that's funny about Starbucks. I worked with a fellow named Christos - he had a history of people getting his name wrong - so he'd get coffee every morning at the same Starbuck's by work and give a different (and sometimes odd) name each time - I'm not sure they ever caught on that this guy had a different name every day.

  2. Whited (like the past tense of the verb "white"...I whited out that word) was my maiden name...we got allllll sorts of veriations on that one. Whithead and Whitehead were the most common. We always knew when we were getting spam phone calls and mail right off the bat!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...