Starbucks: by any other name would not smell as sweet

December 15, 2010 — by Samika Kumar

Starbucks. It’s my best friend. A visit to Starbucks changes my day from average to spectacular for two reasons: the steaming, sweet chai tea latte I order every time I visit and the vast majority of names I can pick from when the person at the register asks for my name.

But cashiers didn’t always know me as Bob, Jane or Barbara. I used to give my real name because I was too scared of forgetting what name I used when my order was called or worse, having the awkward conversation of, “You don’t look like a Rihanna...”

One special trip to Starbucks, exactly a year ago, threw all my worries out the window. It started off as the typical routine that any coffee lover goes through. After waiting in the Starbucks queue for several minutes, it was finally my turn. The lady at the register took my usual order—chai tea latte. And then... the crucial question.

“Can I have your name, please?”

To this day, I have no idea what was going through my mind when I gave my reply, which was undoubtedly unexpected to both the lady and myself.

“I’m, uh, John?”

The lady cocked her head to the side and gave me a skeptical look.

“Are you sure about that?” she asked. I guess she noticed the confused expression that had spread across my face.

Little was I to realize that this moment would signify the start of a new chapter in my life. A profound new meaning to my existence.

Since that day, I have used a multitude of names, ranging from Mary to Timothy to Sarah to Sam.

I have no doubt, however, that some names have elicited more exciting results than others. Take my most recent Starbucks visit for example. After my chai tea latte order, I gave the guy at the register my name.

“Cleopatra.”

“Hmm, Cleopatra, I don’t think your name will fit on the register,” the guy said. In a failed attempt to sound witty, he spat out, “Can I shorten it to Cleo?”

I nodded shyly. As I walked away, he remarked, “Cleopatra, that’s a pretty name.”

“It’s... a family name,” I replied, trying to look convincing. The guy nodded in awe—my first “gullible” joke where I was not the victim.

So if you ever go to Starbucks and hear an Indian girl say her name is Joe or Antoinette or Lucy, make sure to look closely.

That girl just might be me.

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