Thursday, December 8, 2011

SAY MY NAME

Some of you (and when I say some, I really mean my closest friends and family) will find this familiar.  I wrote this article after suffering yet another misprint of my name.  Let the record show that in all the media coverage that I've had in this mad twirling round of insanity that happened as of late, the worst mistake I've seen in my name has been the missing hyphen.  That really means a lot to me, as you'll probably gather from my post below.

Also, I acknowledge that I don't have an English name.  People meeting me for the first time are often quick to point this out for some reason. Honestly, they act like they're pulling me out of the Matrix when they tell me this wondrous fact.  "What?!  Weh-Ming isn't a common name?  Are you sure?  That's just so weird, I've heard it all my life..."

I wonder... hey, if anyone living in a non-English as First Language Country is reading this, do people ask you what your Mandarin/Taiwanese/Swahili/Esperanto name is?

Before you immediately scroll to the bottom of the page and start hammering out a missive on Non-English as First Language Countries, I'm joking.  Also, any name that you've been given probably means "Foreign Devil"... and don't even get me STARTED on that tattoo.

Without any further ado, I present:


SAY MY NAME

I received a letter from VIA Rail Canada yesterday, offering me a promotion for taking a train trip this summer. I have a pretty good feeling that we’ll be taking that trip this summer because when I say “received” I really mean that I found the letter, open and unfolded, sitting on the keyboard. I’m pretty sure that’s a hint.

What caught my eye about the letter is not the promotion (20% on incredible Canadian travel experiences!), but rather my name. It’s addressed to “Weh/Ming”. My split personalities must be getting pretty obvious. The Weh Side of me wants to take a train trip to Montreal, but the Ming side of me wants to stay at home and play video games! Whatever shall I do?

Anyway, this got me thinking about all the mistakes that have been made with my name. Here are just some of my favourites, with attribution where I can remember.

Weh Ming-Cho: This was from a magazine subscription that I had, I think for the ever popular Readers Digest. It was really easy to figure out who they had sold my information to by tracking this one. I would get offers to get my degree at home, gardening magazines, and all kinds of other coupon packages and junk addressed to Mr. Weh Ming-Cho. I wondered what kind of person I’d be if I’d grown up with a hyphenated last name like that, but I don’t see my mother as a Ming…

Whe-Ming Cho: The name that sounds like fun! Okay, it’s only almost like saying “whee”, but sometimes almost is the best you can do.

Wah-Mang: I have Grammy to thank for this one. She’s known me my entire life. MY ENTIRE LIFE. And not once, in all that time (and I have my whole family to back me up on this), has she EVER said my name correctly. Once I got past the whole emotional scarring thing, I eventually made it into a game. I would work out a way to say my name in a conversation. Something like “Then my teacher said ‘Weh-Ming, come here!’” Or maybe I’d put something with my name written on it in front of her. Something like, say, my birthday cake “Happy Seventh Birthday Weh-Ming!” (The cake decorator could get it right, why couldn’t she?) Then I’d wait for her to say my name again later. I do have to give Grammy props for creating another, more embarrassing, mispronunciation ever. I’m not writing it, but if you look at how I wrote it there, and switch the W and M and say it again… Yeah, pretty funny right? Jerk.

Weh-Ming Chow: I find it incredibly ironic when someone gets my given name correct but can’t get the last name right. Mom made up a poem to help these people.

It’s Cho like “go”
Not Chow like “cow”.

Weh Mingcho: A variation on the Weh Ming-Cho, but doesn’t take as long to say because of the lack of hyphenation.

Ms. Weh-Ming Cho: This was how I was listed on all of my insurance policies for years. For some reason, nobody ever noticed it – including the insurance broker that set up the policies and I spoke with frequently. When they switched me to a Mister, they didn’t charge me that much to make up the difference in what I should have been paying, which made me think that my insurance company had a heart. Silly me.

Ming Cho: I don’t know what happened, but somewhere I lost my way. Get it? That right there’s what you call your basic pun.

Wang: True story. The very first phone call that I ever took working at a call center changed how I said my name forever.

Me: Hello, this is Weh-Ming, how may I help you?
Customer: Wang?
(Entire life flashes before my eyes spent correcting my name a hundred times a day)
Me: Yes, sir.
Customer: Wang, I got me a problem…

After that, I always said my name was Weh. When you’re on the phones and you’ve got to keep your call time down, there’s nothing like having to explain my name for two minutes on EVERY CALL. At least with “Weh” people could mistake it for “Wayne” or “Wade” or “Ray”.  Even when I was no longer on the phones but working as a supervisor or trainer or account manager, I just went by "Weh" for the next nine years.  When I changed industries, I took my name back.

May-Wing: Interestingly, this happens to be the one that I got the most growing up, but hardly get at all anymore. I’m not sure what it was about Weh-Ming that caused adults twenty-odd plus years ago to all make this mistake. Every once in a while it rears its ugly little head and I think of The Impressive Clergyman from The Princess Bride. “May-Wing. May-Wing is what bwings us hewah today.”

Wemming Cho:  I heard that this was how Steve Murphy on the ATV news said my name.  I can't blame him though.  I do have a hyphen in my name, and that just leads people to want to say it quickly sometimes.  After all, Billy-Bob would be pronounced "Billybob" not "Billy...Bob".

A note on my first name: Little used, except to screw people up (and by people, I mean me).

Chow, Chu, Chong (really), Ko, Sho, etc.: I won’t go into my last name. Three little letters that make so many problems.

For a few years, I just went by "Weh" (though I'm back to the full "Weh-Ming" now). However, it’s only been recently by my choice. Now an exploration of some of the many witticisms that I received on a daily basis.

“Hi Weh! Get it? Highway?”
Yes, you are a marvel of wit and delight. You have compared a greeting with me to a road. How very amusing. It’s usually followed up with:

“Bye Weh! Get it? By way?” 
You slay me.

“You’re Weh out there!” 
And yet somehow you’ve managed to find me.

“Hey Weh! That rhymes!” 
It sure does! Here’s a cookie, now don’t play with the scissors.

“Go a-Weh.” 
You first.

“How much do you Weh?” 
This one didn’t make any sense to me either, but it brought near paralysing levels of laughter to the kids so it was all right.

“Hey Weh, Weh-t up!” 
I shan’t. Bugger off.

“Yo Cho!” 
Way more popular when G.I. Joe was in the mainstream.  I braced for impact when the movie came out, but nothing really came of it.

“Hey, don’t cut in line. Weh Cho turn!” 
I offered bonus points in a class I was teaching to anyone that could come up with a new one I had never heard of. Within about five minutes, I got hit with this one. It’s pretty situational, but incredibly unique, so I gave double bonus points.
“Weh!” 
Thanks Wayne’s World.

“No Weh!” 
Followed up by the ever popular...

“Yes Weh!”



That’s all I can remember right now. I'm sure there are more though.  In the meantime, I hope that VIA doesn't force me to buy two tickets so both of me can go with our wife.


UPDATE 9:54 PM 12/8/11:
My good friend Jason, who will feature in an upcoming post that I don't want to give anything away but is pretty awesome, pointed out one that goes WAAAAY back.  It's such a classic that I had to update the post to include it.

Wyoming - At a school event in Grade 7, we were going around the room introducing ourselves, playing the name game that sort of thing.  A really cute, OLDER girl (she was in Grade 8, which meant that she was as worldly and as unattainable to me as the poster of Samantha Fox in my locker) accidentally called me "Wyoming". In her defence, she was really cute and older and therefore it didn't matter to me at all that the nickname stuck for years. Jen, if you're out there, I may have had a bit of a crush on you. ;)

And in case my lovely wife is reading this: I love you, she means nothing to me. I'll just sleep over here on the couch, okay?

13 comments:

  1. My offer still stands to have the "Chorolla" emblem made up for your car. I have a connection.

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  2. I want to feel badly for you ..honestly I do....but having grown up with the name of a candy I just can't. Carmelbar..carmelcandy..Carmelopcorn...see my predictament? But I did love hearing your plight
    It made me feel happy that in the name game of life..I am not alone. Oh and by the way...you always called me Carmel like it rhymed with bell, but it is actually pronounced as if it is spelled Carmal...just saying...lmao

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  3. @Anonymous - Wait, what? You can make an emblem for my car? We need to talk.

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  4. @Carmel - Waaaaait a sec, Carmel, is that you? Why did you never say to me "Weh, you idjit, you have been pronouncing my name wrong for YEARS." It seems like it should have come up at some point...

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  5. The one sided name game was one of the best parts of sitting next to you at work. "This is Weh-Ming how may I help you"....Weh-Ming...Weh....Ming....Weh.......yes...that's right Wayne. -_-

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  6. The latest version of that is "Wayne Ming".

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  7. @Carmel - damn it, even when I was writing that response, I have to admit that I was mispronouncing your name in my head.

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  8. You didn't mention the time in middle school, i do believe you and I were doing the Peer Helper thing and another Student called you Wyoming.... I still laugh at that.

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  9. @Jason - Aw yeah! That was Jen that called me that. Man, how did I forget to include that? Maybe I'll do an update.

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  10. Says the man who told me his name was simply Weh lol....besides I gave up correcting peeps..much ea
    sier to say "yep that's me" and no one called me caramello that way.

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  11. I was astonished to hear the Global Maritimes reporter keep saying your name as "Chow" ... I don't remember whether Frisko on CTV messed it up any point, but I'm assuming he did.

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  12. There's also a small part of my brain that thinks you're "Ming Chen", but I'm sure you can imagine why.

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  13. @B.A.S. - Yeah, it was a bit awkward. And I thank you for the comparison to Ming Chen. I'd be happy to be associated with Mr. Smith and Co.

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