comments 5

What’s in a name?

I had a late morning dentist appointment today to have a filling replaced. My dentist is located way across town (I’ve been getting my teeth maintained there for 30 years) and it is hard to predict how long it is going to take to get there. Today traffic was light and I was twenty-some minutes early. I parked my car and wandered across the street to the local Five-bucks. I figured anyone getting dental work done deserves a latte.

I ordered up my beverage and the person on cash asked for my name…for the cup. This was silly since they were not busy, but I gave my name. I know I should have said Fred, but I didn’t. I said my name is Eugene.

She wrote down: Y and said, Y….. waiting for me to tell her the next letter in Eugene. I said, there is no Y in Eugene. She looked at me like I was from Mars. Honest. It’s spelled E U G E N E. She looked at me skeptically. That’ll cost you a 75 cent discount, I said. What? A 75 cent discount. That’s the penalty for spelling Eugene with a Y. I have a naturally loud voice, and I could hear a few customers chuckling. I can’t….oh wait….OK. She gave me a 75 cent discount on my latte. There was only one possible response: that’s why you rock!


  1. Miss Polly

    I cannot spell to save my life myself. When I order at the five bucks store I always over enunciate my name in an effort to get the right spelling and more times than not a O is missing. A quick search on Google indicates Eugene was 822 in popularity in 2015. I couldn’t find the same list for 1996 assuming an age of 20 for the barista but I hazard a guess it was unique then too. When you add this to the fact that millennials are also likely to have had their own parents mess with the spelling of their name in order to be unique it’s a wonder they know how to spell any names. I love that they gave you 75 cents as a discount though. That, is priceless!

    • I wonder if my parents realized that by naming me Eugene it meant I had 2 names with a silent first letter….or were they just naming me after Uncle Gene (only a couple people call me Gene, but since I like them, I’m OK with it). I hope you had a great time on your trip by the way.

  2. When I was in fourth grade one of the boys who used top sit in the back row throwing spitballs got called on during the spelling lesson and asked to spell “Europe.” He rattled off Y-E-R-U-P. That was the first time I realized how catastrophically ignorant some people actually are. Sigh.

    • Salvelinas Fontinalis

      I blame the education system not the kids. I used to own a retail store and routinely hired high school students to fill entry level positions. I was horrified to learn that none of them could spell. One kid was so bad that one day he wrote out a phone message of about 15 words and all 15 were so badly misspelled that the 2 of us couldnt figure out what the message said. One of his teachers was a customer so I cornered him to ask what was going on with the total lack of spelling skills among his students. He said ‘We dont teach spelling, That is memorization not learning and we dont want to waste valuable teaching time on things that the kids can memorize on their own and with the way computers are progressing they will all have a spell checker anyways in a few years’. Uggggh this was intentional. This kid graduated (with the help of the dont fail my Johnny policy) unable to spell this sentence correctly and barely able to read. I was stunned by this but it was the state of education in Ontario and all students were suffering from poor teaching. Some years later I saw this kid working full time pumping gas.

      • Fair enough. But my memory dates to 1963 — I’m an old fart. At that time the expectations really were higher. You had to take weekly spelling tests. I agree, I have seen even bright kids in the 21st century who couldn’t write a sentence intelligibly .

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