“Yeah, Gray…Like the colour.”
I say this at least once EVERY DAY. No, I’m not exaggerating. I deal with the public on a daily basis and am frequently introduced to kindly patrons wanting to exchange names.
This is Canada and people are friendly. It gets awkward.
“No, not Greg. Gray. Nope, Gary has two syllables. It’s pronounced Ggggg-rrrr-eeeeeeeh. Dre? Do I look like a doctor? Do I look musically talented? No? Cool!
“THE NAME’S GRAY!“
I work with more than a handful of people who are convinced my name’s Ray. A number of factors have allowed this to happen:
- Having a single-syllable, non-conventional name can be a challenge. The human ear has a tough time registering the word “Gray,” mainly because it’s spoken quickly and sounds identical to ten other words if you don’t listen very carefully.
- I’m of the belief that once a co-worker is convinced your name is something it’s not, you just have to deal with it. Correcting their mistake—no matter how lightly you try and pull it off—will result in immediate awkwardness and can jeopardize your working relationship.
- Sometimes I feel shy and don’t want a mini-confrontation with someone I’d like to impress…Or someone I don’t really care to impress. Basically anyone that resembles—or actually is—human.
Now, I understand that it could be worse. Some people are born with tongue-twister names that basically act as social force fields. Imagine being a salesman with a name like Ekmedeme or Kryzyzweske. No, I didn’t just spew some random gibberish at you, a quick Google search just confirmed that both those names actually exist—and the people attached to those names live somewhere in North America!
Yup, life could be worse. But God gave some of us easily mistaken names for a reason.
- To test our confidence.
- To hone our social skills.
- To make us capable of navigating through the most awkward of moments.
- To give us something to cringe about at random times throughout the day. Like showers, the drive home from work, or when you’ve finally mustered the courage to ask out Stacey from accounting.
That ponytail though…
One would think that a name with four letters wouldn’t produce such confusion. I mean, “Gray” is a pretty straightforward word to pronounce that was recently popularized by some book where a guy convinces a girl to sign a sex contract.
Boy, do I love being associated with 50 Shades of Mommy Porn.
But that’s not the point. The point of this entry is to acknowledge that life is chalk full of awkward social encounters. Your job as Human Unit: #12341324122341 is not to avoid these moments. It’s to confront them with a confidence befitting one of Santa’s elves and wrap it up before any long-term damage is done.
By the way, if anyone comes up with a foolproof strategy to respectfully correct someone who’s butchering the way your name’s supposed to be pronounced, let me know.
(Insert witty and equally thought-provoking sign off here)