February 24, 2012 2 Comments
Do you ever find yourself masking your inner rage and/or desire to throw a swivel chair at a coworker’s head, with a fake, stenciled, smile?
I find myself doing this very frequently, and often times it’s for the same reason: my name.
I have a foreign name. It hails from the land of beautiful rugs, vibrant culture, and some of the best damned falafel you will ever have (be sure to take Pepto Bismol shortly after having some). That’s right, I’m talking about the Middle East. Like many other Middle Eastern names, my name is loaded with letters which don’t exist in the English language. So people mess it up…a lot. I don’t mind if people mess up my name. I know it’s uncommon and difficult to say/remember. What I do mind though, is being lumped in, and ultimately confused with someone else who also has a ‘weird’ name and hails from a neighboring region. Take South Asia for example, it’s nothing personal towards the area, it’s just that I don’t want to be called something I’m not…
My team only has 5 people on it: Bob, Sue, Jim, Frank, Prakash, and myself. As you may have guessed, both Prakash and I are dark skinned, but we are different in the fact that we are not the same person. For example, although Indian, Prakash spends a great deal of his free time slipping his sandals on and playing cricket with his Pakistani, South Asian brethren, Imran (disclaimer: no judgment, that’s TOTALLY fine).
A few weeks ago, some people from my team got pulled into a meeting. There were Big Bosses EVERYWHERE. One of them, who I had heard a lot about, walks into the room, heads straight towards me, and sticks her hand out. I’m thinking “Wow, she wants to talk to me, this is great!” That is until she said “Hey Prakash! How’s it going?”
That’s when the tell-tale signs of rage showed up.
We’re talking veins popping out everywhere, teeth clenching, face turning crimson, and blood temperature rising to the boiling point of 212 degrees. I paused for a moment. My eyes affixed on her, the fake smile, the outstretched hand waiting to be grabbed, the polo with the company logo on it (it was casual Friday). For one fleeting moment, I purely loathed this woman. And then, half a second later, I cracked a smile wider than the Nile river, with my teeth still clenched I brought my hand to hers, firmly grasped it, and very calmly stated “Oh, that’s not me, but it’s a pleasure to meet you, (head tilt)…..Melanie.”
AKA: “HEY! I know your name don’t I? Stop mixing me up with the ‘other’ dark guy!”