what’s in a name?

My name is Caitlin. Caitlin with a “c”, I’ll sometimes say. When I’m feeling very descriptive I tell people my name is Caitlin with a “c” and an “i”. In my mind I believe that is enough descriptors for proper spelling of my name.

It is not.

I have encountered many people in the world who are named Caitlin. I have known very few who have spelled it the same as I. It’s not their fault, they didn’t originally spell their names on their birth certificate, so I can’t very well hold it against them that they’re spelling their name wrong. I accept it as fact that my name is the original Gaelic spelling and theirs is, well, some sort of odd offshoot. It’s kind of like when people spell Stephanie with an “f”. It’s not that it’s phonetically wrong, it’s just that it’s wrong.

One of my favourite past-times is going to Starbucks. I don’t go for the lattes perse; they’re not very good. I must admit that a Starbucks pumpkin spice may be rivalled elsewhere, but elsewhere’s is just not the same. But other than those select few months where such a latte is possible, I don’t go to Starbucks for the drinks. I go for my name on a cup.

Maybe your Starbucks doesn’t do this (however I find it hard to believe that not every Starbucks is exactly the same with exactly the same practises), but the ones in Toronto ask you for your name. They write it on your cup with their little pastel-like pencil, above where they wrote all of your drink specifications. This is to ensure that you know that drink is completely and utterly yours. You now know your latte is personal, it’s unique, and it will never be any one else’s. You know this because your name is on it.

I might be a little cruel in doing this, but I never tell the poor barista how to spell my name. I’m always intrigued. I don’t get mad when it is spelled incorrectly (that would be a waste of anger since it always is), I am just thoroughly entertained. You would be surprised how difficult it is to have your name spelled the way it is on your birth certificate when your name is Caitlin. Unless your name is Caitlin, in which case you know how difficult this is.

The following are ways that my name has been spelled on a Starbucks cup in just the last month:

1. Katelyn
2. Kaitlin (oh, so close!)
3. Catlyn

number four

Number four is my personal favourite. The most entertaining part of number four is that my mom actually spelled out my name for the barista writing it on the cup. Now, you can see that this particular spelling adventure was difficult. The “c” is some sort of “kc” siamese twin scribble thing that never quite got it right. And that “ie” combination between the “l” and the “n” are a little bit odd, given that there also seems to be an “e” hiding behind the “l”. The cup is full of attempted corrections that ultimately failed. This is by far my favourite.

I was just baffled that my name was still impossible to spell given that it was spelled out for the girl, letter by letter. It was then that I realized how difficult my name really can be.

I try to be very attentive to others’ names and how they are spelled. I try to do this because I know how annoying it is to have your name constantly misspelled. My high school used to spell my name with a “y” on everything. The only thing they got it right on the first time was my diploma, thank goodness. This was just as baffling as the awkward Starbucks cup because no one had ever given my high school a piece of paper with my name on it spelled any way other than correctly. They just changed it themselves. I’ve also had bosses spell my name wrong constantly despite receiving emails, notes, and memos from me that, obviously, had my name written by me and therefore written correctly. Due to these incidents, I try to be attentive to other people’s names and how they are spelled.

I try not to be too much of an overbearing spelling tyrant about it, but sometimes it happens. The thing is, is that if I spell my name for you once or I correct your first spelling of it, you should then know how to correctly do so. I understand the first time spelling it without guidance can be tricky but I will always correct you. After that, I’ll just get angry. Like the Hulk. Okay, not quite like the Hulk but I definitely won’t be impressed. And then to remind myself you’re not alone I’ll have to go spend five dollars at Starbucks. Then I will be broke. See what you’re causing here?

My name is Caitlin. With a c and an a and an i and a t and an l and an i and an n. Does that finally clear it up?

P.S. If you are American and reading this… I hope you vote today/have already voted!!!!!! I’ll be following! (Wow, that sounded so creepy… I won’t be following you, I’ll be following the election and the final outcome. Not a stalker. Really.)

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