At the shop where I buy my coffee in the mornings, they usually write your name on the cup then send you to a second queue to wait for your drink. The system occasionally breaks down. For example, last week a woman called Alex reached the head of the queue only to find that the previous customer was also called Alex and had left with Alex II's drink.
The staff behind the counter were baffled by this turn of events. How could such a flawless plan be so easily derailed? Could they ever trust the system again? Eventually, the panic faded from their eyes and they set about making Alex II another cup of whatever it was she had ordered.
The naming thing never works out well for me. I didn't think my name was that unusual but if I'm lucky I get a cup with SEAN written on it. Sometimes it's SHAYNE, which is close enough to Wayne to make me shudder.
Mostly they write something so incomprehensible that I have to stand there for five minutes while the guy with the drink tries to work out how to pronounce it.
Recently there was a DIRK ahead of me in the queue. You don't see many Dirks these days. Possibly he's a Dutchman working in London but I started to wonder whether people are tempted to choose false names for their coffee.
Perhaps people choose something easier to spell or less likely to be misheard. Maybe they get a little escapist and choose the name they wish they'd been given.
Anyway, this morning I noticed a guy from work behind me in the queue. We don't know each other. I doubt that he knows my name but I happen to know his. I was close enough to hear what he said when the woman taking his order asked his name. And you know what? He gave a false name.
I'm not going to tell you his name because if he keeps it secret in a coffee shop he's unlikely to appreciate being outed on a blog. Believe me when I say it's not unusual. It's certainly not that hard to spell.
And what alias did he choose? Theodore? Eusebio? Dirk? No, it was the very plain Tim.
He shrugged a little when he said it too, as if to say 'what do you care? I can make up anything'. And he's right of course. But it seems so bizarre somehow.