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respect the name

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8 o’clock, and I’m still at work. A colleague and I are scrambling to fill a skills gap left by another colleague who’s buggered off up the West Coast of the USA for six months. It’s a technical field (NAS – Network-Attached Storage) I’ve been getting into anyway, but the catalyst today is a major customer in the UK who’s been jerked around for months by the local support orifice, who don’t know the product either. There’s a good chance it will mean a trip to London next week for one of us, probably me, to go on site.

Of course, my other work isn’t going away, and I’ve spent the last two hours on a detailed and lucid email to another major customer in the UK via another support team. Hence the extra hours, which I will make a point of clawing back when convenient.

Not a good day. We’re all moving desks this weekend, and I managed to offend one of the facilities staff. He was slapping labels all over my things, with my name badly misspelled. I knew it wasn’t his fault, but the “unprofessional” language that came out anyway lifted a few eyebrows. He complained to his manager, who complained to mine, who complained to me. It turns out it was my manager’s fault for misspelling the names of his own staff. I think he now knows how seriously I view this, if he didn’t already.

I’ve had both my first name and surname misspelled, regularly, my whole life. My surname is Scottish in origin, but not such an exotic name that people take extra care over it. One the one hand, the English version (with a P) is more common in the UK, because England has ten times the population of Scotland. On the other hand, my version is far more famous, being the name behind several major multinational corporations, including two media giants and an electronics manufacturer. As for my first name, let’s just say that it’s very close to a common English word that is generally innocuous, but can be used in an insulting way, especially by schoolchildren.

To cut a long story short, I have little tolerance for misspellings of my name, or anyone else’s – getting it wrong, when that can be avoided, is a mark of disrespect. Sometimes people just don’t know, which is understandable, but sometimes it’s negligence, and I don’t stand for that for too long. If my name was Doctor Sivasubramanian Chandrasegarampilai, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey, I might let people shorten it to Dr. Chandra, but it’s nowhere near that hard.


Written by brian t

June 5, 2003 at 8:30 pm

Posted in language, life, work

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