There are two types of people in this world: those who use their real name at Starbucks and those who don’t. I am one of those people who refuses to use my real name at Starbucks. Instead, I have a designated “Starbucks name.”
A Starbucks name is also known as the generic, basic names given to baristas and other servers when ordering a drink or meal. Urban Dictionary’s definition of a “Starbucks name” is: “The name you give to the Starbucks worker because they never, ever get your name right. Instead of using your real name, use your Starbucks name.”
Those who have run-of-the-mill names — such as John, Mike or Ashley — will never understand the struggle of having to repeat, spell and repeat your name again when trying to order a latte during a Monday morning rush.
This is what usually happens when I try to use my real name at Starbucks:
Me: “Hi, may I have a latte, please?”
Barista: “Sure. May I have your name, please?”
At this precise moment, I would start contemplating: “My name? Should I say my real name? Will this finally be the moment they get my name right?”
Barista: “What was it again?”
The barista would silently stare at me in confusion for a moment, Sharpie hovering uncertainly over a cup.
“Just use Chris,” I’d finally reply, suppressing a sigh of resignation.
Chris is my Starbucks name. To be clear, Chris is not my real name. My real name is “Stina” (pronounced stee-na). Shortened from “Christina,” “Stina” is my actual name written on my birth certificate. Chris, on the other hand, is my coffee-run alter ego.
Chris orders cold brew with almond milk and makes my restaurant reservations for me. Her name is quick, unmistakable and usually won’t have any follow-up questions. I envy Chris sometimes.
Look, I can’t be the only one who has the problem, right? For most of my life, I have had to explain my name during every first meeting.
“Don’t you mean Christina?”
“No, it’s just Stina,” I correct them. “It’s Christina without the Chri-.”
Those who have a more usual name won’t be able to fully understand the struggle of having an uncommon name. It is as if every time I introduce myself, I can’t just stop after saying my name.
I have to explain why my name is what it is, essentially giving a summary of my entire life story. Therefore, having that flexibility to take on a different name allows me to retain that sense of mystery when I first meet new people.
Having Chris as my Starbucks persona made my life much simpler than before, especially during college. Attending such a big university, I meet a lot of new people every semester and often only once.
The first few days back on campus are reserved for having an involvement fair. This is where all the clubs and organizations on campus bombard the main road for recruiting new members. These are the types of moments where Chris would take over the conversations for me.
She prevents me from talking too much about myself and sounding self-absorbed (which has happened before). Thus, using a Starbucks name is my solution from talking too long and making awkward conversations probably even more unbearable.
I know this might look and sound insincere and fake, and I am in no way endorsing this action for everyone. Don’t get me wrong; I like my name a lot now, but it did take me a long time to get there.
Growing up, I was constantly explaining my name to other people and correcting them when they mispronounced it. This got to a point where I felt so mentally and physically exhausted that it made me resent my own name.
Explaining an essential part of my identity became tedious and tiresome, and going by “Chris” sometimes prevents the feelings of frustration and annoyance from resurfacing again.
For me, having this second identity not only made my trips to coffee shops much more convenient and efficient, but, most of all, it made my college life much simpler as well.
The more I presented Chris to the world, I realized that Chris is not just a mere coffee shop companion. I rely on Chris more than I thought. She slowly became an important tool in my everyday life for expediting interactions.
I enjoy Starbucks runs as much as the next college girl. Unfortunately, my name complicates what should be a quick, simple purchase. When I started using Chris as my name at Starbucks, she allowed me to regain that simplicity.
At the end of the day, it’s just a label, and it doesn’t compromise my identity or authenticity. Whether I go by Stina or Chris, I’m the same person. To quote the world’s most famous literary genius, William Shakespeare, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Some names are just easier to say and spell than others.