"Two weeks ago, I caved in. I gave a fake name to a Starbucks employee. After years of not even pronouncing my name, but simply spelling it as if I were a robot from out of space — an alien after all — I gave myself a simple but pretty name that happens to have the same vowels as mine: Nina.
"I didn’t think about it, I hadn’t planned it. It just happened. The barista didn’t even look up as she wrote it and took my card. Next. "It turns out I’m not the only one. When I mentioned it in my very diverse class at Columbia University, at least two students told me they have done the same for years. Who knew?" Why do people with a hard-to-pronounce/spell-name bother to give service-industry employees when they know they'll have to repeat it, spell it, repeat it again? Hell, I often give my simple name -- Jim -- and end up having to repeat and spell it. One thing I've noticed is that tellers at Chase bank have been trained to not even try to pronounce difficult names. Rather than trying to pronounce ROMENESKO, the tellers call me "Mr. Jim." And that's fine with me and it ends the transaction promptly without the name dance.