Here it goes: My name is not Pete P. Peters.
In fact, my first name ain't even Pete. My real name is somewhat unusual. The kind of name that, upon introduction, often prompts a quizzical "Huh?" or a "say that again?" or a "there must be a story behind that . . ." Alas, there is no story. Just a gift that has kept on giving for 40 years. Perhaps my parents thought too hard. Whatever. I'm over it.
However, some time ago, I stopped giving my real name during various quasi-social interactions, such as waiting for a table at a restaurant, or when placing an order at Starbucks. "Pete" is just much easier. Especially early in the morning.
Now, anyone who's been a regular at a local coffee shop knows that the so-called "baristas" take pride in learning your drink order and memorizing your name. I suppose this passes as grade-A customer service. For me, however, it's proven problematic over the years. Several years ago, I'd frequent the local Starbucks on the way to work in the morning. My usual drink at the time was a non-fat vanilla latte, and my name was Pete. After a few weeks, the baristas would see me waiting in line and get my drink started. By the time I hit the register to pay, there would be a non-fat vanilla latte waiting for Pete. Except, some days I didn't want a non-fat vanilla latte. And, quite often, I would forget that I was "Pete." As a result, at times, I'd be forced to drink a beverage I didn't really want; and, I'd look like a goddamn jackass as I stood there, staring into space as the barista looked at me, repeatedly calling, "non-fat vanilla latte for Pete . . . non-fat vanilla latte for Pete . . ." Some days, it sucked being Pete.
Things finally came to a head after a year or so. I was hanging out with friends at a bar in Bethesda, Maryland, on a Friday night when I ran into one of the baristas from Starbucks. This early-twenty-something girl comes over and starts talking to me. I had no idea who she was. I didn't recognize her outside of her element. If I were in Vegas, I would have assumed she was a hooker. But as soon as she called me "Pete," the proverbial light bulb went off. We then had an awkward 10 minute conversation, all the while my friends were laughing their asses off behind my back, wondering why this chick is calling me Pete, and assuming she had me confused with someone else the entire time.
Following our encounter, I made my own coffee in the morning and drank it in the car from a travel mug that inevitably leaked all over my shirt. I started going to the Quartarmaine Roasters across the street. On occasion, I even went without coffee until I got to work. But, I never went back to that Starbucks again. Pete had blown it for me. That fucker.
Fortunately, however, I recently found another Starbucks close by. I started going there regularly about 3 months ago. These days, my order is a medium coffee and a turkey bacon sandwich. When I walk up to the counter, I'm usually greeted with a "hey Pete, what's up?" I pay with my credit card, which, incidentally, was not issued to any guy named Pete. This, however, has yet to raise an eyebrow. Some days, I wish I could order a latte and a sausage and egg sandwich; but the baristas are always on the ball, and my order is usually in before I even reach the register. Pete is a creature of habit. Soon, he'll have to find a third Starbucks in the area.