I make coffee drinks.

Is there anything more important than a cup of coffee?

Yes, for coffee is simply a moment of pleasure.

No, for in the moment of making a coffee drink I am doing nothing else. The drink becomes a representation of who I am...who am I kidding, it is a cup of stimulation and I am here to make the delivery more palatable.

“That was a great cup of Joe, uh... I’m sorry, I don’t know your name,” the gentleman complimented.

“Thank you,” I dismiss.

The man waited, eventually asking again. “I’m here regularly, talk with you regularly, and I don’t know your name. I think it’s time we were properly introduced.”

What does one who does not wish to attach to a name say? I point to my name tag, a name tag.

“It’s blank,” he noticed.

“So it is. What’s your favorite name?”

“I don’t have a favorite name.”

“What’s your name?” I prodded.

“My friends call me John...as do my enemies, the tax collectors, the bill collectors and anyone else who wishes to commiserate with me. Now tell me your name.”

The polite thing to do, the decent thing to do is tell John my name, but as I am not chained to any single name, a name will suffice.

“Well, there will not be much for you to remember, John, for we have something in common.”

“And what is that?”

“We both have very common names.”

“You’re too much trouble,” John offered, raising his cup in toast as he walked off.

I almost felt compelled to shout after him, to share the name I was using at the moment to be who the world needed me to be, but refrained, for if the knowing of my name was important he would have waited a moment longer.

A glowing young woman smiled innocently across the counter. Without forethought, I blurted what apparently needed to be said: “How are you today, my name’s John.”

Without missing a beat, the trusting young woman with the glowing spirit of good acknowledged my offering. “Hello, John.”

The part of the conversation she did not witness was the employees with whom I shared my work life all paused at my loud outburst. They had heard me speak loudly, but, though they had worked with me for some time, they had never heard me refer to myself as John.

“Hey, John!” co-worker Sandy shouted while getting a pastry for a customer, chuckling enough to inflict the customers with a smile.

“Here’s your drink, Summer — the name fits you.”

“Thank you, John.”

She smiled and gave me a wink. The name really did fit her glowing, trusting innocence.

From behind, the shift manager slapped me on the back. With a guttural laugh he said, “John? Now you’re John? Too late to change your mind, I’m ordering you a name tag today — we get a lot of flack from corporate for allowing you to wear a blank name tag. It’s against policy, you know.”

What was there to say? What I am called is of little import to me. I can be as detached from John as I can from Eric or Anthony or Graham or Joseph or Albert or Steven or... I am not defined by my signage.

“John!” the manager shouted with a laugh as he went into the small room known by the signage ‘Office’.

The gentleman just wanted to talk. I could have given him any name and he would have left with a smile. Instead, I offer nothing, afraid I may find myself forever attached to his label. My fear of his label — my label — gave me pause, keeping me from simply being.

I will remember the gentleman, John, he wanted to be called.


One should pay attention to what they are doing when working with hot liquids, or a cup may runneth over and scald one to attention...regardless of name.