What’s in a name? Sometimes a racial slur.

What is wrong with people?

I came across an old picture the other day, and since I’ve yet to master the appropriate way to celebrate Throw-Back-Thursday, I thought I’d share it with you. But before I reveal the photo, I owe you a quick explanation.

In a prior job, one of my daily tasks was to interview people who were applying to college. I would schedule appointments with prospective students, and upon their arrival to the school lobby, they were asked to sign-in on the visitor’s sheet. It was the standard sign-in sheet, asking for their name, the current time and the name of the person they were here to see. It’s pretty customary shit, people.

My name is Whitney. Although that’s not a terribly difficult name to spell, I fully understand that it’s not a beginner level name like Jan or Sue. I’ve learned over the years to expect misspells. I’ve seen Witney, Whittney, Wendy and even Brittany a million times over, and I’m completely okay with that. I don’t even flinch.

But on August 4th, 2011, I did flinch. Twice.

Flinch #1:

winteyThat’s right. At 9am, I strolled out to the lobby only to realize the student I was greeting had renamed me “Wintey” while I wasn’t looking. As in, rhymes with “minty”. Although I found the spelling a bit odd, I shook the student’s hand and walked my spearminty ass down the hall towards my office like nothing ever happened. I’m a professional, dammit!

But then, 4pm rolled around, and with it came Flinch #2:




I did a double-take. I lifted the sheet closer to my face, squinting my eyes in disbelief of what I was reading.


How in the holy hell did anyone mistake the name Whitney for WETNECK? God rest her soul, I thought Whitney Houston was a household name, which should render a mistake of this magnitude impossible! And even if they thought I introduced myself as “Wetneck” during our phone conversation, why wouldn’t they have questioned it???

And what exactly is a Wetneck anyway? I was curious, and therefore posted the photo that evening to my Facebook page, where my friend Paula enlightened me.

hickspanicThanks, Paula. Maybe the kid wasn’t a moron, but instead just using my name to test out a newly invented racial slur. Great.

Have people botched your name before? Share your entries to the idiot name-game below.







68 thoughts on “What’s in a name? Sometimes a racial slur.

  1. While my name is slightly more obscure, I feel your pain. My most common alias when answering the phone at work is Alex, but I was once Alice. That was probably the best.

    In my previous life when I wore an orange apron with my name spelled out on it, I always encountered comedians that were inventive enough to be the first person to call me “Tex.” They also often asked if my brother’s name was Houston. The look on their face when I’d tell them his name is Austin was priceless (spoiler alert: it’s not actually Austin. My parents weren’t that cruel)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahahahaha! Whitney your post just totally made my day!! My name is Ronke and I have heard all kinds of mispronunciations from “Ronka, Lonkey, Rookie to even Rocket” -Apparently, one name is not enough!

    Thanks for a great read! I can relate with your pain so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh dear, I bet you’ve heard it all! And who even comes up with “Lonkey”?!? I give you credit for not giving in. If it were me, I’d probably just be introducing myself as Ann by now. You are a stronger woman than I!


  3. It happens to me all the time. I’ve been cursed/blessed with a common men’s first name for my surname (think Michael). And a very common surname as my middle name (think Smith). You know when you go to doctor’s offices and the forms ask you to fill out Last Name, First Name, Middle Name? Whenever I do that, the receptionist calls me back over to correct it because that particular arrangement of my name looks more plausible than my real name (Think Michael, Matthew Smith). I’ve been going to the same doctor for 15 years and they still call me by the wrong name.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. #1) I am so excited to see that WTF really means “whiskey, tango, foxtrot”. This is a truely good day.
    #2) Why I chose Witny (HA! just kidding). I wanted my baby girl to have a unique, pretty name that when I sent you off to grade school and the teacher said “Suzy”, seven little girls wouldn’t turn around. Also, it had nothing to do with Whitney Houston as she didn’t come on the music scene until around 1985. I think that I maybe read something about Eli Whitney and immediately thought “Whitney – that’s it!” And if that isn’t how I came up with it – it would have been a great story. And lastly, “wetneck” dumb ass guy should have been enrolling in grade school, not college! Just sayin’….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, kiss my cotton – you named me after Eli Whitney?!? I call shenanigans. Either way, I love the name. And I love you.

      And (spoiler alert), that guy didn’t quite make the cut. 😉


  5. Bahaha! I have a proper grannie name – I can’t imagine what my mother was thinking, but I reckon I need to find out. Dorreen. In England everyone has an ancient auntie about 95 with no teeth called “Auntie Doreen.” Literally. They are standard issue for everyone born in this country. I have been spelled Dorien, Darren, Dorrin, Dorine, Dorcas…. they only get better from there. My husband (and, literally, no one else, thank goodness!) calls me Doe. My family calls me Reen. (Even they hate it.) I’ll settle for “hey you!”… or Mother Hen. Waaaaay better. Waaay. I envy you, Wetneck. At least your name is trendy and on the cutting edge of… something. Maybe racism, maybe ultra uber coolness. But I kind of like the whole Hispanic Bubba appeal of it. Wear it with pride, Bubbacita!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I couldn’t help chuckling… i empathise with you. You have a beautiful name and I think someone would have to be a bit thick not to get the spelling right :-} My name has gone from being Tampa to tamarind to thumfa to dampa to fanta… I gave up when someone called me fanta basically. If i have to repeat it more than 4 times, feel free to call me anything really 😀 Yes I agree with a prev comment to stay away from starbucks hehehe

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think names are funny. The people that get to me are the ones that are really defensive about how people say their names. I mean, I really don’t care how people say my name/spell my name/etc. because if I’m not going to be interacting with them regularly (or even if I am) if I know who they’re talking about it doesn’t matter. 🙂

    A very enjoyable post. Happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. J. C*nt…mostly my Australian ‘mates’ though, and not accidentally. Rather as a term of endearment, strangely enough. But really, (my last name’s Vickrey), I hear: Vicki (to which I reply, ‘should I just tuck and roll with it,’ and share a chuckle quietly to myself in my head), Victory (I run around like I was just called to play ‘The Price is Right’), Vicker (I anoint them as if I’m giving them ashes), and finally…the worst of all…VickERy (because close just isn’t close enough).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been called every name in the book, everything from Michael to Malika. I have just come to expect people to misspell my name. I can’t think of a single time when someone who didn’t know me spelled it correctly! I would’ve never thought someone named Whitney would have similar struggles, haha! I enjoyed reading this, thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can so relate! My name is Geralyn (soft G, like a J). Tough one, I admit. I get lots of requests to “spell it,” Not sure if they are testing me but I always spell it right! I hate the nickname Gerri, prefer Ger or G. Easy for everyone. Glad I found your blog. Look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Brilliant blog, very funny! My surname is ‘Heap’, nuff said. One is almost always expected to spell it out to every opportunist jester on the other line who clearly heard my surname the first time I said it. Yes it really is HEAP. Yes, I am a Heap, hardy har har! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My first time reading a blog post of yours. Also my first time laughing out loud to a blog post. I would like to thank you for having such amazing writing skills and an awesome sense of humour! What a breath of fresh air!

    On a relevant note, people always misspell or mispronounce my name. It shouldn’t be that hard, it’s spelled exactly like the restaurant. K-e-l-s-e-y. I’ve gotten Kelsy, Kelsie, Kelsea, and even Chelsea. What can you do, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Most people back home who read my name for the first time call me Nadia. How hard can Nida be right? Wrong. This has already happened a few times since I moved to Canada. There is no escaping it so I have learned to live with it. Btw I loved and still love whitney huston. Though next time I see her name somewhere I’m going to think of wetneck.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love your post. Had to laugh. Now take my first name for instance – Eula…. you can just use your imagination. I won’t even go there and tell you what my maiden name was, it would just get worse… There’s ula, bula, beula, boola, yula, shula and it keeps going….lol.. I’ve learned to just laugh and keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. lol, nice share, really. wow, lol. and to think these were college prospects. I guess it’s not so bad, or is it. After all, Dan Quayle couldn’t spell potatoe. Or is it pottoe or pottato, or… ^___^

    Liked by 1 person

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