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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Evidence that getting a brand new name isn't always a reason for celebration

I love the @VeryBritishProblems tweets.  They always make me laugh. There's even a book of them you can get from Amazon which is all about your little British awkwardnesses  and there's a Facebook page. There's no need to miss out on the 'Yes, I do that' moments.  There's comfort in knowing you're not the only one who says sorry to people who bulldoze into you in the street because they weren't looking where they were going.

Tonight, one tweet said, Missing the opportunity to correct someone, meaning you now have a brand new first name. #VeryBritishProblems

And that reminded me.

We had an after-school training session with a visiting speaker at my school some months ago.  There were at least thirty other teachers in the room.

A colleague came up to me while we were busy doing group discussion and said, 'The trainer needs a fast typist to write up the notes as the groups give feedback. I've volunteered you.'

Aren't people kind?

I couldn't say no.  But it entailed sitting in the middle of the room, like a prize cow at an auction, while everyone looked on as I typed in their ideas which then got projected onto the screen.  It meant working quickly, because I had to summarise what people were saying as well as type.






If it had just been this, I think I could have coped.  But the true humiliation was still to come.  The trainer had misheard my name when my colleague had recommended me.  And when I say misheard, I mean got it so, so wrong that I thought I would implode with the embarrassment.  *leaves big gap in blog post to graphologically symbolise shock and humiliation*


















'While you feed back your ideas,' he told the group cheerily, 'our volunteer, Gran, will type them up.'

Gran? I thought.  Did he say Gran?  No, surely not!

'Thank you very much, Gran, for volunteering to do this for me.'

Okay.  So he did say it.

'Gran will type up your ideas as you -'  Yep, okay.  There's no need, really, to keep saying it.  Did you miss the module on pronouns at school?

I had just a few seconds to make a decision.  Here were my choices.

a) Speak up, pronto, and put him right before the opportunity elapsed.

b) Suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misnaming, the slings being the barely-concealed hilarity of my department colleagues and the arrows being the fact that not one person in that room was going to concentrate on the task in hand while he repeated the word 'Gran' like a pork pie repeats on someone with an ulcer.

He said it again.  'Right, Gran, if you could just -'

I interrupted.  'My name's Fran, I said.  Fran.  Not Gran.'  I avoided my colleagues' eyes, just as one avoids sharks, or dark alleys, or recurrent bouts of syphilis. I wanted to add, 'I'm sure lots of people are baptised Gran, but I'm not one of them.'  But I didn't.

I also wanted to turn my head towards the camera, like Miranda Hart does, and say, 'Rude!'  But there was no camera.

He apologised, apparently unaware of the scale or ramifications of his error, and we moved on.  I typed as fast as I could, hoping it would lessen the time I had to sit like an exhibit at a freak show: 'Only £5 to see the Incredible, the Amazing, the Unbelievable Misnamed Typing WOMAN!'

And, about seventeen years later, the groups finished feeding back ideas, he said thank you for the help, and I was able to escape.


At least, I suppose, I've got a story for those evenings with friends where you've had just a little too much wine and someone says, 'Let's all tell our Most Embarrassing Moment stories.'

And there was me, thinking my 'The Day the Toilet Roll Went Under the Cubicle Door and Landed at  a Lady's Feet' story had been my most embarrassing moment.











16 comments:

  1. I would have said no. But then I can't type

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    1. At that precise moment, I wished I couldn't either.

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  2. Dear Gran,

    Under that sort of pressure, my typing skills would have disappeared.

    Love,
    Insany

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    1. Dear Insany. Under that sort of pressure, my typing skills remained, but my dignity less so. Love, Gran.

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  3. So with you. You'd think Steve would be a fairly easy name to hear, comprehend and repeat but no. I've been called Pete, Dave and on occasion git but I've no idea where that last one came from.

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    1. Pete and Dave are more forgivable, for sure. I'd rather have been called either, as alternatives to Gran.

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  4. Ooh noo... wince wince wince

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    1. You felt my pain, I know it.

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  5. I hesitate to point it out but surely addressing you as Gran would be ... fairly accurate? I mean, you ARE she, at least in certain contexts. I can see that addressing you as Stan would have different implications. But if you'd prefer Pete or Dave to Gran, maybe Stan would have been ok...

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I did think that. He was technically accurate. But context is all....

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  6. You'll have to stop taking your humbugs and knitting with you .

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    1. I know there was SOMEthing I was doing wrong. And maybe the slippers didn't help either.

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  7. People get my name wrong too, but I don't mind so much, I like the other version better. It's the same letters slightly rearranged.

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    1. I mused on this for a while, rearranging the letters of River to see what it would spell. Then I remembered it probably wasn't your real name .... Dur!

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  8. Grans come bearing bags & bags of Pick n' mix from Woolworths...
    or at least they did.

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    1. Ah, Woolworths ... I do miss Woolworths. I used to buy my pads of writing paper from there and they're twice as much money in Smiths.

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