Do you have a Starbucks name?

Annabelle Gurwitch has found what may be one of the few remaining places where you can be anybody you want: Starbucks. Check out the part towards the end where people on the street are asked to share their Starbucks names.

I'm reminded of a time many years ago when Schultzy's Sausage had expanded to a second location in Redmond. (They closed the location after maybe a year, not because business was bad but because it was just too much work for the owner.¹) A group of us stopped in for dinner, and as each of us placed our order, the man behind the counter asked for our names so he could call us when the order was ready. Most of us gave our names without a fuss, but one of the group (whom I shall call "X") decided to play around a bit:

X: I'll have a dooey.

Man: (taking down the order) What's your name?

X: (being a bit of a smart aleck) What's yours?

Man: Schultzy.

X: Oh.

Nitpicker's Corner

¹This statement of fact is actually an interpretation of events based on hearsay evidence. It does not establish a statement of the official position of Microsoft Corporation, and that interpretation may very well prove incorrect given the unreliability of the nature of hearsay evidence.

Comments (36)
  1. David Walker says:

    The nitpicker’s corner is getting a little snarky these days.  Were we that bad?

    [Look at all the people who still write, “Yes, Raymond, you are a Microsoft spokesperson” in the comments. -Raymond]
  2. stosb says:

    "One coffee for miss Zareehai M. Stoopet!"

    "Coffee for miss Diswunsfer Free"

  3. BradC says:

    "Batman. Venti Mocha for Batman."

  4. John Goewert says:

    My friend and I had Pizza ordering names in college. For some reason, Darren and John were too hard for most order-takers.

    We’d have the guy waiting at the door looking for Darrel, Juan, Gerald, Joe, Larry(?!?!), etc…

    Finally we decided he was Ed and I was Bo. Never had a problem since.

  5. dave says:

    I recall hearing a story about a group of people who would give the name "Roadkill" for restaurant seating.

    This was the name of their band, but it also had the side effect of making somebody go find them when their table was ready and not just calling out the name.

  6. Norman Diamond says:

    It’s more of a "bottom edge" than a corner really, isn’t it?

  7. PSmith says:

    "Chakrapanth Womboronovat" or "Womack" are favorites.

  8. The last time I tried to be cute and use a fake name, it all went horribly wrong. Interestingly, I used "Schultz" as my name, but somehow the guy wrote that down as "John". So my friends and I waited an extra 10 minutes while some poor guy kept trying to hand out "John’s" order.

  9. Kevin says:

    > [Look at all the people who still write, "Yes, Raymond, you are a Microsoft spokesperson" in the comments. -Raymond]

    I’m pretty sure some of those people are joking.  Then again, maybe you are too!  If that’s the case, you should get a new bat — I think you broke yours on the dead horse you were beating.

  10. Wolf Logan says:

    I used to know someone who would make restaurant reservations in the name of Wilde, particularly when dining with large groups. Just so he could hear the host(ess) say, "Wilde, party of eight…Wilde, party of eight".

  11. Nik says:

    Ruth’s Chris steak house in Bellevue Square always insists on addressing their guests as "Mr So-and-so", repeatedly.  For some reason they can’t pronounce my last name (Gloy), so various employees kept calling me "Mr Glow", "Mr Glory", etc. throughout the evening.  Very annoying.  Next time we went there, I was Dr. Evil.  The waiter had a hard time calling me that with a straight face, but he had to do it.

  12. Leif Arne Storset (aka "Eric") says:

    It’s annoying, yet entertaining when I tell Starbucks my name is "Leif" (pronounced like English /life/), and they ask me how to spell it. The usefulness of my name in the context is drastically reduced if correctly spelt because if they spell it correctly, they can’t pronounce it! So I’ve learned my lesson, and now I’m "Eric". "Dr. Evil" is enticing, though.

  13. GregM says:

    "I used to know someone who would make restaurant reservations in the name of Wilde"

    I do too, but it’s not nearly as interesting when he does it, as that’s his real name.

  14. Donner says:

    This is stealing from XKCD, but it is worth reposting.

    At a restaurant, use the name "Donner."  The punchline should be obvious.

  15. Cooney says:

    For some reason they can’t pronounce my last name (Gloy), so various employees kept calling me "Mr Glow", "Mr Glory", etc. throughout the evening.  Very annoying.  Next time we went there, I was Dr. Evil.  The waiter had a hard time calling me that with a straight face, but he had to do it.

    I’m going as Mr. Mustard, just to see if they do it.

  16. Ross Bemrose says:

    "My friend and I had Pizza ordering names in college. For some reason, Darren and John were too hard for most order-takers."

    One of my friends just told pizza delivery people that his name was Mr. Cook.

    They never seemed to have a problem with that!

  17. Miles Archer says:

    Hmm. No Starbucks name, but a psuedomny for commenting on blogs.

    Nitpickers corner was getting tedious, but not today.

    On the topic of nitpickers, you must have some idea as to the ratio of readers to nitpickers. It’s got to be pretty high.

    [It takes only one nitpicker to get me into big trouble. Nitpicker’s Corner is a defensive tactic. -Raymond]
  18. Norman Diamond says:

    If I had 1 yen for every time someone pseudomnysed me on a blog, I’d be a rich man!

  19. Cooney says:

    [It takes only one nitpicker to get me into big trouble. Nitpicker’s Corner is a defensive tactic. -Raymond]

    This is why most of my online dientity is chosen to have almost no bearing on my real one.

  20. Pierre B. says:

    I think I speak for everyone when I say:

    We *demand* to know the official position of Microsoft Corporation on the causes of the closure of Schultzy’s Sausage second location.

    Otherwise, we’ll… we’ll… we’ll nitpick your blog!

  21. Sexy says:


    "Mocha Latte w/ Peppermint for Sexy."

    "Why, thank you, you ain’t so bad yourself." *wink*

  22. Nick says:

    The nitpickers thing is getting <i>really tiresome</i>.  Why don’t you put a line in your headlines saying “All opinions expressed here belong to me, not my employer, any statement made without supporting evidence is suspect” and be done with it, rather than including a disclaimer at the end of every article?

    Better yet, just turn off comments.  It would save you a bunch of time and you wouldn’t have to feel responsible for reading them.

    [Because the headline doesn’t go into the RSS feed. And certain influential people believe that a blog without comments is not a blog. But then again, maybe I’m not writing a blog. -Raymond]
  23. Jivlain says:

    Nitpicker’s corner was great today!

  24. Worf says:

    Well now… I gotta try this.

    There’s a starbucks in the lobby of our building (and more than a few meetings in the "lobby meeting room"), but since I don’t drink coffee (!), I never been there. Though, I think they have non-coffee drinks there too.

    Arg, why didn’t I think of this a couple of weeks ago when my friend came over. Could’ve got something for a "Mr Prime" and "Mr Megatron"…

  25. Kuwanger says:

    Well, now that my comment has been quoted so much, does that mean I have to put in a disclaimer on it as well to cover my own ass?  Or do I not get that luxury?  Nah, I’m kidding.  I still think my point stands.

    Having said that, Raymond has shown me that print media is incredibly irresponsible with putting columns on the web.  I find it rather hilarious, in a way.  I think it has something to do with a myopic understanding of how the web works.  In short, print media makers–specifically, their online counterparts–have this belief that people will go through their front page and through that recognize that certain columns are more newsworthy than others.  But, this is the world wide web.  That means, a lot of the time, articles will be directly linked to, completely bypassing the front page and any subpage that would clarify the newsworthiness of the column in question.

    Having said that, yes, there’s a certain amount of "tone" and other attributes that might hint at you just how professional and official a column is.  Newspapers tend to be rather formal, magazines less formal, and blogs (and emails) least formal of all.  Even still, it smacks of irresponsible to assume people can be certain that a magazine or newspaper column isn’t meant to be anything but the rantings of the columnist.  The very fact that newspapers and magazines tend to go out of their way, in print, to mark such things is precisely the "cover your ass" mentality that is necessary for the rare times a columnist does take it upon themselves to speak beyond the bounds they’re meant to and the editor doesn’t deal properly with it (perhaps thinking that people should just know that it’s more a sign of columnist megalomania than anything).

    So, sorry Raymond for making such a big fuss over your magazine articles.  I hope that, in time, magazines and newspapers *do* put in the disclaimers and qualifiers when posting on the web that are sorely needed.  Sometimes, Raymond, you do speak in an authoritarian voice, and so it does become difficult to ascertain that you’re just speaking of speculation.  And while I’d take a blog entry to be just that, a means of trying to spread some insight, but mainly to try to communicate how you feel personally about things, I do tend to give more weight to printed media because they are a potential target for lawsuits, so generally are more discerning (at least in print) to be clear about the relationship between a columnist, the magazine, and whoever else is discussed in the column.

    But, I think it’s good to throw in disclaimers in your blog as well.  I know it’s an added burden to you.  But, anything that further covers your ass isn’t a bad thing, IMO.  This is especially true if you really fear that something you say in your blog could be used against you.

  26. Stephen Jones says:

    In Saudi Starbucks you just get a number.

  27. Tom West says:

    <i>Sometimes, Raymond, you do speak in an <b>authoritarian</b> voice</i>

    Is he really that bad :-)?

    More to the point, creating *anything* authoritative is *incredibly* expensive because what you say has to be carefully researched and verified by other sources, including every team that is conceivably affected by the article.

    In other words, it costs *way* more to produce authoritative materials than you’re going to make except for the base documentation (in which the cost is considered part of the product creation). You want authoritative?  Pay for it. (I’d guess that making Raymond’s blog authoritative would cost a few million dollars a year, starting with <b>paying him for his time on this blog</b>, fact checking by experts from every department his article references, costs of sign-offs from all the other departments, proofing, examination from the legal department, authorization from marketing (are articles on this subject really in the larger corporate interest), etc.)

    This means that blogs, magazines, courses, presentations, etc. are not (okay almost never) authoritative.  You have to use your judgment (gasp) about how much to trust each article.  Of course, name recognition, company affiliation, previous authorship, etc. are all going to factor into the your trust decision. But for goodness sake, don’t confuse trustworthiness with authoritative communication.

    Not to be personal, but it’s people like you, Kuwanger, who cause the communications people to want to close down every possible non-official avenue of communication, not to mention that it makes Raymond less likely to contribute.

    Sorry, but in my opinion, your contribution in this matter has been a net negative.

  28. Steve says:

    You know, you could really disable comments and I wouldn’t care. I’d still love you, and the love of one strange, anonymous man on the internet should be more than enough to keep you going. It’s probably a sight better than trying to see the gitfaced nitpickers off at every possible pass, though.

  29. schwiet says:

    There’s some pretty snarky stuff in the EULAs as well, but no one reads those.

  30. Kuwanger says:

    @Tom West:  I’m rather getting sick of having to clarify what I mean.  My point of saying Raymond speaks, at times, with an authoritarian voice was to point out that Raymond’s words don’t always sound like conjecture.  For example, ‘One final note of trivia for your next geek cocktail party: the original name for FAT32 was "BigFAT".’

    And, my point of interest was TechNet Magazine, not Raymond’s blog posting.  Why?  Because I recognize that TechNet Magazine *is* paid for (be it by Microsoft* or the cost at news stands in the UK and Australia) and, assumedly, Raymond is paid as well for his contributions (if not, then I’d imagine he’s the odd-one-out).  The editor of TechNet Magazine is specifically paid to do at least *some* work to clarify that what is written in columns doesn’t hurt TechNet Magazine, be it from having bad writers or having questionable content.

    Does that make TechNet Magazine or columns within it a supreme authority when it comes to Microsoft (even if Microsoft is paying for TechNet, in part*)?  No, because newspapers and other medium (official documentation, for example) are considered to have higher authority.  The truth is, there is no "supreme authority" when it comes to Microsoft but Microsoft’s owners/shareholders.  How often do they directly speak about Microsoft, though?  I doubt Microsoft shareholders are particularly trustworthy on technical details about Microsoft software, though.

    In short, no thanks for making it sound like I consider Raymond’s blog authoritarian or that I want Raymond to be authoritarian for free.  I don’t care if Raymond wants to be authoritarian or not.  I’m perfectly happy taking Raymond’s blog at its face value, a guy from Microsoft making comments on his personal blog.  What’s so hard to understand about that?

    *Perhaps TechNet manages to survive through advertisements and revenue from areas where they sell the magazine, so their free subscription to IT professionals in some areas is just a marketing campaign?  Perhaps.

  31. Drak says:

    Whenever I go to a place more than 3 times they can usually remember me just by my order, cos for some reason it’s always ‘different’ from normal people.

    Either that, or I have a face people remember, but I wouldn’t want to put them through that trauma.

  32. Kuwanger says:

    @Larry Hamelin:  Thanks for the clarification (and no, that’s not sarcasm).

  33. ScienceCastle says:

    Sure. My name is Professor Franciscan! This name always gets me in trouble because it is too long :)

  34. It’s authorita*tive*, not authorita*rian*. Raymond would be authoritarian only if he *forced* you to use Microsoft’s products. That’s someone else’s job.

  35. Dewi Morgan says:

    "Dewi" cannot be correctly pronounced by anyone outside of Wales, but that’s OK because in the starbucks here, they reember you by calling out your order like "Double bailey’s mochalatte extra skinny whip choco sprinkles and a smiley face with a cherry on the top?" and then giving it to anyone who reaches out their hand.

    wrt Raymond as an authority: I wouldn’t use a blog as a reference in an official paper, but it’s a damn fine resource to give when arguing in favour of paying our code taxes, or showing people the lengths MS go to promote back-compat. That is: it’s good for backing up email and forum arguments :D

  36. Gandalf says:

    If it’s not crowded, I ask the counter people what happens if I don’t want to tell them a name.  That confuses many of them.

    That, or I just say Gandalf.  It works equally well.

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