Resurrected the blog and this is my first post back on the job. Something nice and light, enjoy!
For people with unique last names, the military uniform becomes a vessel for shouting to the world “Yep, here I am, my name is plastered to my chest solely for your viewing and inquiring pleasure and all I want is for you to ask me about it.” For the Smiths, Johnsons, and Williamses out there who have no idea what it’s like to feign patience, here’s a conversation I had just this morning, an example of the fun some of us endure every time someone attempts to pronounce our difficult name:
Mrs Nosy: Stares intently at my nametape, conveniently located below eye level on the right side so that people actually have to make a concerted effort to look DOWN at my chest.
Me: “Ma’am, can I help you?” Oh God, here we go.
MN: Still staring. Don’t worry, not awkward at all, it’s just my chest. “That’s quite a last name you’ve got there! Can’t say I’ve seen that one before.”
Me: Can’t say I’ve heard that one before. Dear Lord, the reading glasses are coming out. “Yes Ma’am, it’s pretty unique.”
MN: “Is it You-En-Gurt?” She distinctly pronounces each syllable with a pause in between them.
Me: Well, it’s good to know your phonetics are on point, I’m sure that’s how it was meant to be pronounced Mrs. Will-I-Yams. “No Ma’am, it’s actually pronounced Yen-Gurt.”
MN: “Yun-Gurt? Am I saying that right?”
Me: Seriously? I just told you. “No Ma’am, Yen-Gurt. Take out the U and then try it.”
MN: “Ohhhh YANG-Gurt, that’s strange. Well why is it spelled that way?”
Me: Yet another intelligent question from my new friend, how the hell should I know? I wasn’t around 200 years ago lady, seriously, you’re killing me. “Beats me Ma’am, it’s German.” That’s my excuse for just about everything, “It’s German.”
MN: “Ahh yes, German. I’m sure you get lots of people asking about your name, am I right? And pronouncing it wrong, you must have heard everything in the book! Yong-Gurt, I see it now.” Still. Staring. At. My. Chest.
Me: “Yes Ma’am, well it’s actually Yen-Gurt, like I said before. But don’t worry, it’s German, nobody gets it right the first time.” Or, in your special case, the second, or third, or fourth time.
MN: “Hmmm well if you’re going to be in the military, you might want to think about changing it dear, nobody likes a name they can’t say. It makes people uncomfortable. (Oh wow, this conversation is going downhill.) Or at least get married dear, and to someone with a simple last name.”
Me: …Blank stare. Absolutely speechless. How the HELL do I respond to that? Quick, say something! ANYTHING! Before she starts talking again!
MN: “You know, (NOOOOOOOOOOO how could I let this happen?!?) my nephew is single and-”
Me: “Sorry to interrupt Ma’am, but I have somewhere to be, it was nice to meet you.” Nice recovery. A hasty getaway is better than a blank stare.
MN: “Oh yes. Well have a lovely day Miss Yoon-Gurt.” I’m done. Please walk away now.
Wow, that escalated quickly.