December 10, 2009

Can I Get Your Name?

I like my name. I like hearing people use my name. And I like when people know my name. There is nothing special about my name, in fact, it's a little too common (some other Todd took @toddchandler on Twitter, so I had to settle for @trchandler). But it is MY name. And like Dale Carnegie wrote several years ago, "If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them. If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance."

However, I think some service-based businesses have crossed the line of common sense when it comes to using customers names. At our local McDonald's, where I eat EVERY Saturday for lunch with my four children, the same one or two clerks behind the counter always ask me, "Can I get your name?" They write my name on top of the receipt, and when they place the last of the golden fries on my plastic tray, they say in a loud authoritative voice, "TODD!" As if I wasn't two feet away and saw them finally complete the order.

Not only does it seem like a unnecessary step, I'm starting to get more incensed that they've turned my name into a number. Oh sure, the kids have given me different names to use, and we've all enjoyed hearing them call out Derf, JoJo, and Mickey, but even that's grown old. Please stop asking for my name if you're only going to use it as a number.

The other night at Taco Bell, the woman behind the counter used the same technique with a little more finesse. She wrote down my name after reading it off my credit card. In some ways, that felt worse. Not only did she convert my name to a number, she wrote down information off my credit card. This Saturday, I think I'm just going to give them a number when they ask for my name.


  1. one of my favorite fake names to use is Marco - under the right conditions (eg, casino poker room), the crowd responds "Polo".

  2. I'll have to give that one a try next Saturday. Maybe, I'm looking at this all the wrong way. Maybe, when asked for my name it's a chance to explore new identities. I guess I could be having a lot more fun with this. Thanks for the the comment and the idea!