The World’s Hardest Consonant

Almost concurrent to the 2010 National Spelling Bee, I had another misadventure with my last name. As some of you know, the spelling of my last name has been fiendishly constructed to flummox PR people as well as fully sentient humans.

Last week I checked into a hotel for a conference and spelled my last name. Twice.

Later on, I wanted to use the hotel’s free Wifi, but when I tried the Last Name/Room Number form, it didn’t work.

I called the front desk. “Oh, we misspelled your name. Try O-C-H-W-A-P.”

(WTF? Well, OK. I tried it. Still didn’t work.)

I called tech support, and explained what was happening. I pictured a guy in a call center in the steppes of Asia, wearing a headset in a tiny cubicle. We went back and forth for a couple minutes, while various approaches failed.

I wasn’t angry or impatient, but I could sense his angst.

Anyway, the guy eventually figured out that the clerk had not only mangled my name, she had mangled the misspelling of my name. That is to say, she spelled “Ochwat” wrong, then said she spelled it “Ochwap,” when in fact she had spelled it “Ochwab.”

If she were a batter, she would be skulking back to the dugout after her three whiffs.

Tech guy eventually cleared the problem–and by that I mean he got me connected to the Internet.

But the problem with my name still remains, lying in wait for the next unsuspecting front desk clerk.


5 thoughts on “The World’s Hardest Consonant

  1. John: Did you know that there are no laws defining how to pronounce or spell your name. Without changing the spelling you could start pronouncing it Smith. Wouldn’t that be fun?

  2. Me: “I’m gonna have a beer Thursday night with John.”
    Wife: “John who?”
    Me: “You know…”
    Wife: “Oh. THAT guy. What’s his name again?”
    Me: “John. Just … John.”

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