For the sake of my privacy (and desire to not scupper any employment chances), let’s just assume that my name is Squinoa for this post. ‘Cause I’m S and Quinoa is something that none of us can say at first (it’s true. And then we learn how to say it, we can pretentiously correct someone else — don’t act like you haven’t done it!).
Having a name like Squinoa is difficult. It’s not common. People don’t do well with things that aren’t common. Seriously. You can come across a person that tells you that they love ALL cultures, they love to travel, they love to eat different foods.
I tell that person my name is Squinoa and they switch off or get weird. Here are two scenarios.
 ‘Oh,’ they utter with all of the tact of a banana peel in a cartoon skit, closely followed by, ‘That’s an unusual name’.
No. It’s not unusual, it’s uncommon. There’s a difference. Apple is an unusual name. Custard is an unusual name. Squinoa is an uncommon name.
Occasionally you get another type of person. That patronising person that you painstakingly avoid at all costs.
 “Squeenoa?” they utter, with a joker-esque smile that breeds discomfort. After realizing that you’re not joking, the smile takes on a slightly pitying edge. With no shame at all, they say, “THAT’S A LOVELY NAME!!!!!”
People telling me that my name is weird, aside, there are a whole host of responses that I get.
“Can I call you for ‘Susie for short?”
Sure. Just not if you want me to speak to you again. Plus, you know, that’s not my name. It isn’t even the same orbit as my name.
“What’s your real name?”
— uh, that is my real name
“How do you say your name? I mean, I know you introduced yourself but like, it’s different on paper and I’d like to know it even though I’m just going to forget it again!”
— proceeds to forget it again.
“Why don’t you have an English name?”
— ask my fucking parents, not me.
Something that is normal to me, is so unique and unusual to these people that it becomes a huge thing. Just last year I introduced myself to a group of people and they literally openly laughed in my face and mocked my name. Apparently it sounds like some kind of chemical. It was kind of humiliating and not at all what anyone should do when someone has just given you their name.
(Unless their name is Custard).
Anyway, that brings me to the dilemma. Name change. Maybe I can save myself all of this by changing my name to Sally. Or Susie. Or Square. That’s a good one.
Or maybe – just maybe – people can learn to be respectful. If you want to know how to say someone’s name ask. If you’re not familiar with the name, enquire about it.
Telling me that my name is unusual is only going to put you on the top of my shit list. Not bothering to learn the pronunciation of my name puts you on the ‘I don’t know you’ list.
You’ve been warned, people.
On a serious note, this is a real problem. I think this post sums it up quite well.
Using a person’s actual, correctly pronounced name acknowledges his or her individual humanity.