Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Jonathan Naymark

GET UPDATES FROM Jonathan Naymark

So Starbucks Got Your Name Wrong? Get Over It, Princess

Posted: 02/13/2014 4:05 pm

Alright peeps, we need to talk about some first world problem stuff going on right here and no, I'm not talking about the toilet situation in Sochi that has captivated journalists in the lead up to the Olympic games. For the record, next time someone sends you to a foreign country on an all expenses paid trip, don't whine about it.

So what's the biggest issue of the week? What has got everyone's knickers in a knot? Sit down and get ready for it my friends, because the people have spoken: in 2014 a barista incorrectly spelling your name has given us something to tweet about.

This may come as a surprise to those who order brewed coffee, but for more complicated drinks many Starbucks baristas will print your name on the cup along with ordering instructions. Presumably this is done so that upon completion of crafting your drink a barista can call out: "I have a half sweet, one Splenda, half soy, extra hot, no foam, no whip Venti Caramel Machiato for Beth." This is Starbucks's form of consumer protection ensuring Beth receives her handcrafted bevie.

Sometimes in the fray that is a Starbucks line, a lot can go wrong (frozen iPhones, empty Starbucks cards, anarchy) and names get confused, things get forgotten, and bad stuff happens. This is also knows as: Starbucks is Not Open Heart Surgery, No One Died.

Yet apparently not everyone shares my laissez-faire worldview because Wrong Names at Starbucks has become a cultural thing. It's become so much of a thing that it has multiple tumblrs and its own hashtag where people post amusing photos of Starbucks names gone wrong mocking their baristas for sheer stupidity. Once you get a hashtag you've crossed the rubicon and hit critical mass.

According to my research on Glassdoor, the average barista in the U.S. makes $8.79, per hour. Assuming a 40-hour work week that grosses to under $20,000 a year pre-tax, although I guess you wouldn't pay income tax because you are living below the poverty line. In Ontario, where the minimum wage is set to increase to $11, the current barista averages out at $10.55 an hour. An average barista is living slightly above the Ontario poverty line. Yay!

Baristas may get harassed for not remembering individual names of the thousands of people they pour drinks for, however, I think they are a noble profession. They are our frontline workers bringing sugar and caffeine to the masses, they are nurses for the proletariat.

Clearly, not everyone agrees. I mean, I'm sure it must be hard for the consumer, as you take that Starbucks drink to your desk, sit in a climate controlled office, and feel mocked by that green she-mermaid who sings out to you an incorrect version of your name, while that barista -- goddamn him or her, with their smug aprons -- has to stand hours after hours locked in a tiny space listening to entitled customers bark inane coffee orders at them in some pseudo language involving words like dopio, vente, short and grande.

So instead of laughing about being called Fibi or Vansa -- empathize (a word we don't really use anymore, we just "like" things on social networks) with your barista friends and think about why they may have misspelled your name.

1) Sound: It is loud at Starbucks and the barista, who probably works eight-hour shifts (see above), didn't hear your name correctly and since the cup she wrote on is disposable she didn't think that her entitled customer (a.k.a. you) would take offence at her inaccurate spelling and then Instagram their displeasure with the caption: "hahahah look at this dumb barista you guys she's never heard of the name Phoebe."

2) Speed: The barista who gets paid a pretty crap salary (see above), is trying to move AS MANY people through the Starbucks line as quickly as possible. Why is he trying to do this? Because behind you are 12 people who haven't had any coffee (or sugar) and are antsy to get their java fix. The Barista hopes that by quickly moving you all through the line quickly you will drop a quarter in the tip jar so as to increase their salary. The Barista also hopes that by being good at his job he will be promoted to a shift supervisor. Suffice to say when you say your name, the barista writes an approximation of your name as quickly as possible without wondering about the proper spelling of Katharine or Catherine.

"But wait Jonathan," you're about to protest: "I go to the same Starbucks every day and the barista never remembers my name or my order!"

Do you want a vente hug to go with those alligator tears? Grow up.

3) Culture: "But Jonathan," you complain, "my name is so simple -- it's Jane, how can the barista not be able to correctly write Jane?"

Well -- Jane -- since you're the worst person in the world who doesn't think reasons one or two matter, here's rationale number three. You, Jane, are a member of the white hegemony. Your barista, who perhaps is a recent immigrant to Canada (or from a culture where Jane isn't so common), does not think the name Jane is so simple. Your barista may not have gone to a private school with 4,000 other Janes or have gone to summer camp where they were known as Jane G. so as to not to be confused with Jane P. and not to be confused with Jane K.

So while you and all your besties are Janes (the Jane club!) this barista knows 4,000 people named Barwaqo (a popular name in Somalia and the name of a real, lovely woman who works at the Starbucks in Logan Airport and basically learned English while working at Starbucks). Imagine that? Do you know how to spell Barwaqo? Oh you don't? Maybe the barista should Instagram a photo of you trying to spell Barwaqo and laugh at you? How does that feel, Jane?

Do you really want to know why a barista not remembering their name offends people? Because people think they are special. Everyone thinks that his or her drink order is special and that his or her name is special. Everyone is too busy being offended about how they are special to realize that to an hourly employee trying to get by, you're just another non-fat, extra hot, no foam double latte.

Enjoy your Starbucks Gold Card, everybody.


Loading Slideshow...
  • It’s Roll Up The Rim Season... Another Dud.

  • First Day Of Spring Finally Arrives... Snowstorm hits.

  • Just Got Netflix... U.S. Selection Is WAY Better.

  • Rogers Or Bell... Take Your Pick.

  • When I Travel Abroad, Locals Think I’m American.

  • When I Type '?,' It Comes Out As 'É'

  • Watched The Super Bowl... Didn't See The Good Ads.

  • Loonie Is At Par With U.S. Dollar... Prices Aren’t Adjusted.

  • Uses Canadian Spelling... Gets Corrected By U.S. Spell-Checker.

  • Forget Shipping Fees... Seller Won’t Even Ship To Canada

  • Goes To Buy A Chocolate Bar... They're Out Of Coffee Crisp.

  • Asks For A Double-Double... U.S. Cashier Doesn't Understand.

  • Tried To Watch Video Online... Geoblocked!

  • Paid $1.98 Charge With A Toonie... Got No Change.

  • Site Asks For ZIP Code And State... What, No Postal Codes?

  • Next: Most 'Canadian' Slang

  • Double Double

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A Double Double refers to a coffee (often from Tim Hortons) with two creams and two sugars. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Yes, hi, I'd like to order a Double Double."

  • Gut-Foundered

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> When food, however unappealing it is, is all you <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/10/newfoundland-tourism-video-gutfoundered_n_3254578.html" target="_blank">crave at the end of the day. Or, you're just very hungry.</a> <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “Your mind wanders when it’s gut-foundered. Is it going to be take-out? Is it going to be pizza?”

  • Shit-Kickers

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong>Shit-Kickers are nicknames for cowboy boots. Hee Haw! <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I can't go to the Calgary Stampede without my shit-kickers."

  • Kitty-Corner

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Something that is in a diagonal direction from something else. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "The grocery store is kitty-corner to the school."

  • Chinook

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A warm wind that blows east over the Canadian Rockies, warming up Calgary in the winter. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "This chinook is giving me a headache."

  • Darts

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A slang term for cigarettes <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Get your darts out."

  • Stagette

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Stagette is another name for bachelorette party. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Are you heading out to that stagette this weekend? There's going to be a stripper."

  • Cowtown

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Cowtown is a nickname for Calgary. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I've been living in Cowtown my entire life."

  • Gitch/Gotch

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Another name for underwear used mainly in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and often referring to men's or boys' briefs. A gotch refers to women's underwear. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Pull your pants up, I can see your gitch."

  • Bedlamer

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland, a bedlamer is a <a href="http://www.heritage.nf.ca/dictionary/azindex/pages/291.html" target="_blank">seal that is not yet mature.</a> <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "This harp seal is giving me a hard time, it's such a bedlamer."

  • Toque

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A toque is a hat most people wear during winter months. And sometimes, you will see this hat reappear in the summer. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Listen son, don't go out into this weather without your toque."

  • Matrimonial Cake

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> No, no one is getting married. In Western Canada, a matrimonial cake is another term for a date square or tart. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I wish this coffee shop had matrimonial cakes."

  • Rink Rat

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Someone who loves spending time on an ice rink. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I can't get any ice time, I have to deal with all these rink rats."

  • Homo Milk

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Slang for homogenized whole milk, but shockingly, this term is actually used on milk packaging. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "When you go to the grocery store, don't forget to pick up the homo milk."

  • Two-Four

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Common slang for a case of 24 beers. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Are you heading to the beer store? Pick me up a 2-4 of Molson."

  • Pencil Crayon

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> The Canadian way of saying coloured pencil. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Do you have a pencil crayon in that pencil case?"

  • Pop

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Another word for soda. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "That can of pop has 200 calories."

  • Washroom

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Another word for bathroom or restroom. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "This washroom doesn't have any toilet paper."

  • Whaddya At

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Slang for "what are you doing" in Newfoundland. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Did you just get in? Whaddya at?"

  • Mickey

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> For the most part, a mickey is a flask-sized (or 375 ml) bottle of hard liqueur, but on the East Coast, a mickey is an airplane-sized bottle. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "We're going out tonight, can someone grab a mickey."

  • Zed

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Not a slang term, but this is how Canadians pronounce the letter "Z". Not zee.

  • Deke

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A hockey (surprise, surprise) technique when a player gets past their opponent by "faking it." It can also be used to replace the world detour. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I am going to deke into the store after work."

  • Hydro

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Hydro refers to electricity, particularly on your energy bill. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "My hydro bill went up $10 this month."

  • Toonie

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A toonie is a $2 Canadian coin, which followed the cue of the loonie (named after the image of the aquatic bird that graces the $1 coin). <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Hey buddy, can I borrow a toonie? I need to get a Double Double (see the next slide)."

  • Mountie

    <strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A mountie is a nickname for a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Stop speeding, a mountie will catch you."

  • Next: Things We Wish Americans Knew About Canada

  • We Speak English And French, Not Canadian

  • But We Don't All Speak French

  • Or English

  • We Didn't Make Celine Dion, Nickelback And Justin Bieber Famous. You Did

  • We Don't Know Your Cousin Mike From Vancouver

  • British Columbia Is Not In Britain. Or South America. (Google it)

  • We Know More About America Than You Do About Canada

  • Sofa, Not Couch

  • Pop, Not Soda


Follow Jonathan Naymark on Twitter: www.twitter.com/naymark