The Life of Pi (with a Free Boost)

At some food outlets, you order at the counter and then wait for your order to come up. A lot of these places will give you an order number printed on your receipt. But some will instead ask your name, and then call your name when your order is ready. I suppose this is an attempt to “personalize” service, and make you feel like more than just a number.

One time, I ordered at a place like this, and when asked my name, I said “Richard” because that’s what it is. The teenaged employee then asked “Is it okay if I just put ‘Rich’?” This kind of irked me… I didn’t volunteer my name. They asked. I told, only grudgingly. Being corrected simply for the sake of the convenience of the slow-typing employee was kind of adding insult to injury.

My first instinct was to promise to myself that I would answer future queries of this sort with “Bartholomew” and then when asked “Is it okay if I just put ‘Bart’?”, triumphantly state “Absolutely not!”

[I will only briefly touch upon the obvious issue that asking a person’s name to match them to orders solves the problem very poorly compared to a guaranteed unique order number. I would guess if your name is “John” or “Brittany”, you would frequently have to delve down to the specific contents of your order to make sure you haven’t gotten food intended for someone else whose parents were as uncreative as your own.]

Of course, reason set in, and I realized that this poor employee did not invent this ridiculous policy asking customers to disclose personal information in an attempt to allow them to have a easily recalled primary key. So instead of wasting effort on how to make their lives more difficult, I then turned my energy to figure out how to make their lives easier.

Obviously, a short name is easier to type. So now, when I order my Orange Berry Blitz (which although has curiously disappeared from the menu board, can still be ordered) with Fiber Boost at Jamba Juice, I lie about my name.

At first I would use the name “Gus”, since it’s short, so quick to type, and rare, so I probably won’t have to delve down to choice of free boosts the figure out which of the three of us similarly named folks this Orange Berry Blitz actually belongs to. Also, the name is funny, which for me, is key.

However, whenever I said “Gus”, I always got this look that seemed to say either “Huh?” or “I don’t believe you.” I always had to say it a couple times. And it’s not that easy to say or hear in a loud environment.

What are the criteria for a pleasant name lie? Short. Easy to say (because I’m lazy too). Easy to remember. Easy to spell. A real name in North America. Recognizable, but not too common. Male.

Here’s a brainstorm list of two-letter possibilities: Al, Bo, Cy, Ed, Hi, Mo, Pi.

The names Cy and Bo are known in athletics but uncommon enough to probably elicit the “huh?” response from unworldly teenage clerks. Al and Ed are simple but common male names.

Lately I’ve been trying “Ed”. I figure an employee would have to be admirably lazy to try to shorten that. “Is it okay if I just put ‘E’?” That takes way longer to say than to find the “d”.

But “Ed” is also not that great a choice. It’s easy and fast to say, but it is also not that easy to hear, especially over the rabble of blenders grinding up energizing smoothies. It’s not that easy to touch-type (although it is easy to one-finger type) on a standard QWERTY keyboard. And worst off, I always have to think about it when they ask me my name, which makes me paranoid that they have trapped me in a lie.

I could try Al, but worry since it is short for Albert, Alan, Alex, Allan, Alvin, Allen, Alberto, Alonzo, Alfred, Alexander, Alfredo, Alejandro, Alfonso, Alton, Ali, Alvaro, Alexis, Alphonso, Alva, Alphonse, Aldo, Alden, Alfonzo, Alec, and Alonso, I could end up fighting for my juice with a dozen people all with different names and several ethnicities.

Mo is less common, but can also be spelled “Moe”, which means I would have to say and spell it.

That leaves Pi. Sure, I’ve never met anyone named Pi. But it is arguably the most famous Greek letter, and the name of a character whose Life Of is documented in a recent award-winning book.

And the best part for this customer who has always had a soft spot for mathematical constants, is that my order identifier would finally be my favourite number… something that just can’t happen at a stodgy traditional place that confines their order numbers to integers.

How very transcendental.

One thought on “The Life of Pi (with a Free Boost)

  1. do you care that they will definitely spell it “Pie”? I guess you won’t see that part of it, so you can pretend it’s not happening. The funniest names I know of won’t do for you: Gary (too common), Dennis (too long), Barbara (female; too long), and Valerie (ditto). Actually, Val might do for you.

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