Customer Service and Unpronounceable Names

I went to Safeway the other day and bought my weekly set of groceries. As I stood in line, I heard the cashier say the following to the customer in front of me: “Thank you Ms./Mr. (last name on the receipt). Have a good day” As common courtesy, Safeway employees are usually required to say this to every customer they ring up. As I move to the front of the line, my items are scanned and packed into plastic bags.

“Would you like help out?”

“No, thanks.” I say.

At this point, they usually grab the receipt to look at your last name so they can say, “Thank you Ms./Mr. (last name on the receipt). Have a good day” Usually, I see a look of confusion and fear as they stare at my last name. Then they say one of the following things:

  • “Well have a nice day [awkward pause where they were supposed to say my last name]…Bye.”
  • Thanks, Mascara.

  • Thanks Maccarado.

  • Thanks Mascarad.

  • Or my personal favorite,the “thanksMs.madskjafsjioefaj”, where the employee mumbles that whole line, hoping I won’t notice that s/he is too nervous to try to attempt my last name.

Those are the usual situations. However, the other day, I had the pleasure of finding a cashier that understood the real meaning of customer service.

“Thank you Ms….Massacardo?”

“Mascardo.” I corrected.

“Mascardo.” he repeated. “Thanks Ms. Mascardo.”

This was probably the only time I have ever heard anyone put some effort into saying my last name.

See, I don’t care if an employee pronounces my last name wrong. That happens all the time, and it’s an understandable thing that happens. What every employee should realize is that it’s not just saying my last name that brings value to Safeway; a robot could do that. But it’s the effort they put into learning my last name and learning to say my name correctly that makes it personal.