How to Create Your Starbucks Alter Ego

I’m probably not the only one who balks at announcing my real name in front of 20 strangers, just for the sake of a venti soy chai latte. Starbucks employees are required to ask for your name, which they then scribble onto paper cups, in the effort to avoid title disputes on cappuccinos. Some clothing stores do this too, like Lululemon. They write your name on the door and periodically holler “Hi Mary-Jane! How’s it going? Can I get you another size?” (translation – I know you’re not really a six, so stop pretending). So, everybody knows Mary-Jane is in the house and Mary-Jane is holding up the line, and Mary-Jane needs 3 sizes up. But what about reasonable expectations of privacy if Mary-Jane was actually the only Davinia-Andromeda in a small town?*

The second syllable sums up what I'm telling you ...

The second syllable sums up what I’m telling you …

What’s up with people demanding your personal information in public as though they were entitled to have it? Companies and marketing agencies pay millions for your personal information, lawyers work hard to delete your names from public access to information requests, Google is feverishly executing our “right to be forgotten”, so why does a little espresso machine pressure make us buckle at the knees?

It’s also tricky for barista and customer alike when geographic boundaries impact upon the ability to discern foreign sounds. Not quite sure what happens to “Krzysiek” in Guangdong or “Xuan Qing” in Texas, but its probably not pretty.

If ever you’re mulling over a moniker for yourself, here are some recommendations:

  • Avoid names with lots of “Ls” and “Rs” in China/Japan
  • Adhere to a max of two syllables – in repetition if possible (Mimi, Gigi, Dodo all good)
  • Model it after a famous citizen (Francois in Paris, Li Na in Beijing) but don’t take the mickey (e.g. not “Obama” or “Beyonce”)
  • Make sure you can say it with a straight face – bursting into giggles only raises suspicions. (so though “Cock” is a fairly common name in NL, this may not be your go-to.)
  • Enjoy the image you conjure with your real-life avatar!

As for me, my latest inspiration is Marlies Dekkers, the antithetical Dutch icon of frivolous frippery.


*then Lululemon and Starbucks wouldn’t set up shop there, so the question is moot, I guess.


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