People With Common Names Have It the Hardest
 Top image credit: Metro UK

Dear Zephyr, my Starbucks Barista,

I’m deeply saddened that it has come to this.

My visit to your fine establishment just yesterday was marred by the grossly accurate spelling of my name.

With a name like Zephry, I’m sure you know full well what it’s like to have your name butchered and misspelt. In fact, that’s probably the very reason why you joined Starbucks: so you can butcher other people’s names, while getting free publicity for your employer too.  

Yet while my friend had “Eevon” (real name: Yvonne) so charmingly scribbled on the side of her coffee cup, mine simply said “Rachel”. I had expected, at the very least, for you to throw in a couple of extra vowels.

“It’s okay I got it!”—you brushed me off, as I tried to spell out my name for your benefit, only making it as far as “R”.

Imagine my disappointment. And I’d ordered a Venti too.

And so while “Eevon” was busy Snapchatting her coffee for the world to see and laugh at, I sipped sullenly at my watered-down vanilla latte.

I understand that you’ve come across the name Rachel many times before and know how to spell it. Yes, I see that your fellow barista is also called Rachel. But I insist that you must spell my name wrong.

With a quirky name like Zehpry, I doubt you can empathise. But I’ll try to explain.

You see, I already face many problems with having a common name like Rachel.

With a name like mine, I’m practically undiscoverable. 8 years ago, I could still Google myself and find what I was looking for on the second page. Now, I’m lost under the mountain of people who share the name Rachel Lau.

(And in case any prospective employers can’t find me on the 100+ Rachel Lau profiles on LinkedIn, I’m number 59. You’re welcome.)

And it’s not just a problem online.

Ever wondered what people with common names receive as souvenirs?

Keychains. More precisely, keychains with their names on them.

Friend: When I was in Phuket shopping,  I saw your name on this keychain, so I bought it for you. Nice?

Me: Ah. Thank you. Yes. Nice.

“Why not a tote bag or a Chang beer singlet?” is the question I have to stop myself from asking. You Zerrpyh, lucky guy, would probably get a tote bag, considering the likelihood of finding a keychain with your name on it is close to none.

And this isn’t half of it.

With a name like yours, when have you ever been confused with other Zeipryhs (if there are even any out there)?

If I had a dollar for every time I answered a call or replied a text, only to get, “Oops sorry, wrong Rachel,” I’d have at least twenty dollars. Which is basically 3 visits to Starbucks. That’s 3 chances to get my name misspelt!

With a name like yours, you probably just have to explain to strangers what it means and why your parents named you so. Please don’t start on how frustrating this is. We both know you’ve used this to pick up girls.

You know what isn’t a great conversation starter?

Rachel. It’s Hebrew for ‘ewe’, in case you weren’t wondering.

My friends have told me that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill by writing you this letter, but as you can see, I most certainly am not.

I do hope, Zefphr, that the next time you’re my barista, you’ll remember this and remember to spell ‘Rachel’ wrongly. If not to lighten my burden of having a common name, then at least so I can do it for the ‘gram.

I trust that the creative geniuses working at Starbucks won’t let me down again. If unsure, refer to the example below.  


Racheal (like this)

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