I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks for the usual reason: their coffee isn’t that good. But like many expats and travelers, I often find myself in one for the free WiFi and soy milk.
In the US, my name is no big deal; although, I usually get the more common E-R-I-N penned on my cup. There was one time, at a university-run franchise no less, when I got Air’n. Yes, that’s right. AIR hyphen N. It made me sad for the future.
But no where, I mean no where, has my name been such a problem as its been at german Starbucks. I wasn’t really expecting it, but I don’t know why. I have german friends in the US who have had to change their names for the sake of the barista on duty. Why wouldn’t I have a reverse problem? The first time it happened I was absolutely incensed. The cashier asked me my name, pen in hand, and I, completely used to the Starbucks “experience” answered. She did a spit-take, grimaced and said, “Was für ein Name ist das?” What kind of a name is that?
I was on Friedrichstraße not far from Museuminsel, the Brandenburgertor, and basically every Berlin tourist sight known to man. I had to spell it for her more than once, but I’m not sure if she really needed me to or if she just couldn’t believe anyone could have such an outlandish moniker. It didn’t bother me that she wasn’t familiar with my name. It bothered me that she was so visibly incredulous. You’d think she’s never had to speak to a foreigner, what with working at one of the largest restaurant chains in the world.
I considered complaining until I realized where I was. Calling customer service in Germany is like expecting a restaurant in Paris to serve you dinner at 6:00. You can sit down, you might even get a waiter to hand you a menu card, but after that? Bonne chance.
If I was to go to another Starbucks ever again I was going to need a plan. Ein Starbucksname.
(I just made that word up. You can thank me later, Germany)
So here it is, blogosphere, are you ready?
Hold onto your laptops and tablets, people.
Anne. AH-nuh, auf Deutsch. I got a few looks the first time I used it, like they knew something was up, but I think I can say it with enough confidence now that the baristas believe me…just in time to go home.