It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I say my name, but it is always invariably always a) mispronounced, or b) misspelled… and pretty egregiously. When I’d go to a place that needed my name for an order, whether it was for a coffee/tea drink or a food order, I would rarely say my own name after a while and instead would say my friend’s/colleague’s/Chris’s name because I hated seeing “Evon,” “Ivan,” “Evonne, “Ivon” written out.
Once, I was at Argo Tea with my mentee, and I knew for a fact that the person who took my order spelled my name “Evan.” They called out my exact drink order at a quiet time when no one else was there, but the person making the drink insisted (and seemed really rude) that it was for Evan, NOT Yvonne. Fifteen minutes passed, and this mysterious “Evan” never appeared. I looked the server in the eye at the counter and said, “So, are you sure this is for Evan, or me?” She sheepishly said it was for me and gave me a half apology.
When I was eating at the Orlando airport on my own Thursday night, I was shocked when I got my bill, which actually had my name spelled correctly. When the server took my order, he asked for my name and typed it onto my bill. I told him I was a huge fan of him just for spelling my name correctly. He looked at me puzzled and said, “Isn’t that the way you are supposed to spell it?”
I explained to him all the variations above that I usually get when I say my name. This guy working behind him was listening to our conversation, and he said in his thick Russian accented English, “Wait, you spell your name y-v-o-n-n-e? That’s a European name… shouldn’t it be spelled “I-v-a-n”?”
This is the type of attitude that is absolutely the worst to me. “You’re supposed to” or “you should” be spelling it or pronouncing it.. No. No, no, and no. This is my name.
“‘Yvonne’ is a French name,” I said to him, pointedly. “This is a French spelling. And the last time I checked, France is a part of Europe.” Yes, it was snippy. Yes, it wasn’t very polite. But I’m 33 years old, dealing with people misspelling and mispronouncing my name for 33 years, and then worse, trying to justify it. Cut me some slack.
This reminded me of a conversation I’d had the previous night with two colleagues at dinner. One of them called me “Ya-vonne.” I didn’t correct it because I’m so exhausted by correcting people. But my second colleague chimed in and said, “Wait, is that actually how you pronounce your name? I’ve always called you ‘e-VONNE’ and you’ve never said anything.”
I told them that my second colleague was correct: I pronounce my name “ee-VONNE.” The technically correct pronunciation of my name is “ee-VOOHN,” though. And as side note, all the Australians in my life, including Chris, pronounce my name “uhh-VONNE.” And occasionally, I hear colleagues refer to me as “Ihh-VONNE.” I’m fine with all the above pronunciations. “Ya-VONNE” is so freaking annoying. And I always feel awkward correcting it even to this day.
What a joy, still interacting with people who can’t get this right after years of knowing me.