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Chasing The American Dream

February 08, 2005


"The Kiss Hello" Posted by Hello

It finally happened today. It was bound to happen. Hell, it lasted 11 months. Secrets have a way of catching up with you. You try to cover all the bases; you try to remember whom you said ‘what’ to. Eventually it all becomes a blur, worlds collide, and you get busted…

The ‘Old Me’ had himself a lot of rules. The New Me, as you know, has basically thrown out all of them. Occasionally, I run across an old one that still lingers. A few years ago, I was watching a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry was becoming frustrated with the ‘too familiar greeting.’ Every time he ran into Elaine’s chiropractor friend, she’ greet him with a kiss hello. Not just a “hello,” but she always had to kiss him. Jerry felt this was a little too personal, a little too familiar. In the same episode, Kramer thought it would be nice if all the tenants in the apartment complex had their picture taken and posted by the mailboxes so that everyone would know each other. Jerry was dead set against it, but Kramer snuck a picture of him anyway. After Jerry’s picture was posted, all the ladies in his complex were giving him the ‘hello kiss.’ Jerry was steamed. Aggravated. Everyone was too familiar and in his space.

One day, this all hit me. I was at Starbucks, a relative newbie, and they of course asked for my name. It caught me off guard. I froze. I didn’t like it, but game them my name because I couldn’t think fast enough. Then I heard a barista shout, “I’ve got a Grande non-fat caramel macchiato for Todd!” Oooh, that didn’t sit well with me. I thought, Why does my name have to be blasted out so that everyone can hear. What business is it of theirs to know my name? Why does Starbucks have to know my name? I felt like Jerry. This was just too familiar; it was in my space. And then I started noticing this ‘too familiar name trend’ elsewhere. Other walk-up, take-your-order restaurants, be it burger joints or bagel joints or whatever, would ask for my name. Then back to Starbucks. All these strangers wanted by first name. I decided, “ENOUGH!” No more name giving. I decided from then on, if I had to give out my name, I was going to be forever known as, you guessed it, “Jerry.”

As you all also know, I travel 5 days a week. For the past 11 months, I’ve been working in Naples, Florida Monday through Friday. And for those past months, I’ve frequented Starbucks an average of twice per day. When they first asked me my name, I gave them “Jerry” and it has stuck for 11 months. “Hey Jerry, how are ya? Venti Iced Coffee, Jerry?” I had to laugh. It *did* sound funny. I had become Jerry. The funny thing is that I pay by credit card and my name is on the card, but no one has ever questioned me about it.

I’ve made many friends at this one location. I befriended this one really nice barista girl. I had thought about sharing my blog with her, but wasn’t sure what her reaction would be. I finally decided recently to tell her about it. I gave her the address. She read. She commented. She asked me what was up with my name? She even apologized for calling me Jerry. I confided in her. I told her the story. It was our secret.

A few weeks later, I came into Starbucks for my nightly iced coffee. My friend was there. She smiled. She said, “Hi Todd.” Her barista friend looked at her quizzically. “Todd? His name is Jerry.” “No, his name is Todd.” And back-and-forth they went. I finally told her friend the story. I didn’t expect her reaction. She was totally upset with me for deceiving her. She hated Seinfeld, she hated me. There was nothing I could do to change her mind. My friend apologized to me, but I told her it was unnecessary. No worries…

Fast forward a couple of weeks. It was morning; it was time for my breakfast iced coffee. The morning crew was my favorite. We’d become really good friends. I walked in. My secret friend was working. Something was going on. Everyone was staring at me. I knew. I jokingly told my friend, “You told them, didn’t you?!” She smiled and said it just sort of happened. As Kramer would have said, “The cat is mmeeeeeoooowwww, out of the bag!” Jerry would have said plain and simply, “BUSTED!” They all took it well, but wanted to know one thing. Why? Why do they call me Jerry? I told them I had a deal for them. I told them they could read all about it themselves. End so, another Old Me rule went by the wayside. No more hiding. I'm more comfortable with myself now. Who cares about my name really? So here you go, my wonderful Starbucks crew. Welcome to my crazy world!

Your Iced Venti No Classic Iced Coffee friend,



  • You are a very good writer..and I'm glad you feel more comfortable being you. Naples, huh? Not a bad gig. My parents live there and I can't wait to go visit next month. My favorite thing to do is watch the sunset at the Naples Hotel(I'm pretty sure that's what it's called) with a gin and tonic.

    By Blogger Carol, at 10:59 AM, February 08, 2005  

  • This post is a classic. For me, the whole starbucks scenario is the horror in being labeled a coffee name. For instance, I am a tall nonfat mocha. Not even a tall nonfat mocha amanda. That sounds much cooler. We aren't asked our name here in England.

    Nonetheless, you are begining a journey of self discovery. Who would have thought it would begin with coffee? ;)

    By Blogger Amanda, at 12:24 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • Hmmm. It's weird, I feel so intensely guarded about my blog that it shocks me you would share yours with the Starbucks crew. You don't care that they read about your sex life? The people making your coffee will know the gritty details? But then again, if you go in so frequently, of course you know them well. And it's OK that they know your name now. :)

    I am always caught off guard when asked my name. Sometimes I like to retreat and be quiet and not be noticed, and when someone's shouting [GFF!] loudly, it just throws off my entire homeostasis.

    I love that you compare your situation to seinfield. :)

    By Blogger girl from florida, at 12:42 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • Dear Jerry,

    Hahahaha. Classic. I love.

    Dear Amanda,

    Our names are very similar. I am tall nonfat, no whip mocha. In whispers between baristas, I am probably tall nonfat, no whip mocha who is always wearing yoga pants and looking like a cross between crabby and confused.

    Dear GFF,

    I feel the same way.

    By Blogger A, at 12:52 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • I think it's a good thing they ask your name at '*bucks'. I almost got my beverage of choice swiped by an eager young thing in a peacoat. The barista actually stopped her and said "NO...this is a 'xyz'". Funny. Though I get taken aback each time they ask.

    Tall Nonfat Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:15 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • there's a great old steakhouse in naples. only open in season(now). can't remeber the name. well worth asking a local for the location.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:33 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • My local pizza place scared me off, not by using my name, but because they knew I wanted a mushroom slice to go before I even ordered it. That freaked me out, for some reason. In NYC I'm so used to having my anonymity and eating my pizza too...

    By Blogger Esther Kustanowitz, at 4:15 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • hi... wandered over here from island girls blog (Im gwenabee on her links)... its nice to see some original writing, Ive enjoyed reading the whole starbucks deal - funny... :)

    By Blogger Addie, at 5:22 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • One of my favorite posts so far!

    People can be strange, huh? I always give my name as Floofy (my daughter's nickname for me). I get a lot of disbelieving strange looks. It's even more fun at Outback or some restaurant where you wait with the pager. The girls at the podium are giggling before you come in and then ask if that's *really* your name.

    And please don't call me "Double Espresso".

    By Blogger Jewels, at 7:43 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • For those of you keeping score... this blog is an amazing display of BPD - borderline personality disorder...

    Here's how professionals define it... judge for yourself...

    Relationships with others are intense but stormy and unstable with marked shifts of feelings and difficulties in maintaining intimate, close connections. The person may manipulate others and often has difficulty with trusting others. There is also emotional instability with marked and frequent shifts to an empty lonely depression or to irritability and anxiety. There may be unpredictable and impulsive behavior which might include excessive spending, promiscuity, gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, shoplifting, overeating or physically self-damaging actions such as suicide gestures. The person may show inappropriate and intense anger or rage with temper tantrums, constant brooding and resentment, feelings of deprivation, and a loss of control or fear of loss of control over angry feelings. There are also identity disturbances with confusion and uncertainty about self-identity, sexuality, life goals and values, career choices, friendships. There is a deep-seated feeling that one is flawed, defective, damaged or bad in some way, with a tendency to go to extremes in thinking, feeling or behavior. Under extreme stress or in severe cases there can be brief psychotic episodes with loss of contact with reality or bizarre behavior or symptoms. Even in less severe instances, there is often significant disruption of relationships and work performance.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:15 PM, February 08, 2005  


    Dr. Anonymous, thanks for your diagnosis. What do you want, a medal? You obviously know me well enough meaning you've been hanging around a while. Why? Can't stay away? Am I a case study or something? If you don't like it, don't let the door hit you on the way out. Say, *was* anyone out there keeping score?

    Carol, tks for the compliment. Your sunset scenario sounds great if you're with the right person.

    Tks for your comments as well, tall nonfat mocha Amanda, tall nonfat, no whip mocha Aly, Tall Nonfat Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte Anon, mushroom pizza slice Esther, and double espresso floofy.

    GFF, what sex life? Naah, I cared for 41+ years. I have no cares or worries anymore. What's the worst that can happen? You get criticism from mystery 'anons' who are afraid to show their faces anyway?

    Addie, thanks and welcome!

    By Blogger Plantation, at 11:25 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • Hey Todd...ok, I just feel weird calling you that, specially in light of this whole Seinfield episode Blogg (something funny, i have only seen maybe 5 episodes of Seinfield, and this was one of the 5 I saw, SO i actually knew what you were talking about) But, since Todd is weird for me to say, and you don't particually care to be called by name I think I will stick with calling you MR. NOSER! (that's right, it's me again..i was so happy you remembered my name!) i was supposed to work on Monday, but I got switched to Wednesday this week...which really pissed me off b/c I had already made plans for WED. Damn Hotel! lol. Speaking of which: "THANK YOU FOR CALLING STAYBRIDGE SUITES, THIS IS JOY--HOW MAY I HELP YOU"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:50 PM, February 08, 2005  

  • See what I mean? He has this need to disclose his personal, romantic, familial, and sexual details for the purpose of US providing validation for these sometimes poor choices. If he gets called on the carpet for his actions and real behavior, a flurry of criticism is unleashed against the **HORRIBLE** statements of people who choose NOT to provide non-stop praise for the banal, the inane, and what especially gets to me, Todd/Jerry's all too reckless willingness to "out" other people. When he can't engage in the use of this Blog forum to against his enemies, he goes nuts...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:15 AM, February 09, 2005  

  • Anon...why do you care so much?

    People that frequent the blog tend to find some sort of friend in its creator. I doubt you'll receive much support through this forum, and will only find you've offended a much larger group of people.

    My two cents, at least.

    -Tall Nonfat Sugar Free Latte

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:30 AM, February 09, 2005  

  • Anon, you may not like it but you're still here. Somehow I don't think you're gonna like the next post. Wanna bet you're gonna read it? And no, egoboy it's not about you.

    By Blogger Plantation, at 8:37 AM, February 09, 2005  

  • All right, I'm gonna add my shit-worthless-two-cents here. This blog has now become one of the myriad just like it. The back and forth banter between PT, his supporters, and his anonymous critics is just plain, boring. I think if these comments were just left to stand alone, and not go back and forth and back and forth until it makes my eyes bleed...I might actually come back and read. But now, I see PT is planning a post to jab at one of these anonymous people...feck! It's become a soap opera.

    On my site, if someone makes a nasty ass comment, I let it stand--usually, I will respond with a quick one or two lines, but won't go beyond that. There are people who will like shit and there are people who won't. The critics will come, make their comments, feel good, and leave. Then they'll come back to see what the reaction is. And he'll leave another comment. And the supporters will invariably tell him to fuck off, etc.

    This is happening over at Greek Tragedy, and sometimes over at Fish's joint. I've currently deleted those blogs from my "blogs to read list" because of that. It's a fucking drag; I realize PT wants/needs to defend himself, but this just goes on and on and makes for very dull reading. So...I hope to see this shit stop, but probably the supporters of this blog will keep antagonizing the anonymous critics, and it won't stop. It'll be just like an elementary playground.

    Luck my man,

    By Blogger Bubbles, Ink., at 10:17 AM, February 09, 2005  

  • Hey Todd, I'm afraid I have to agree with LX on this one...but wait! Hold on...continue reading. This is only because I care about you and realize how sensitive and kind-hearted you are. You are a great writer and your style is entertaining, funny and poignant, all at once...I think that what lx and I are saying is that you are wasting time...leave the nasties alone..rise above or rejoice in the fact that you are not 'loved' by everyone...that's life. Stop defending...leave that to us...soap operas are banal; your stories are not.

    By Blogger robyn, at 2:28 PM, February 09, 2005  

  • No, that's not the point. If WE defend, the anons will come back. Just leave them up. A lot of times, the comments sound idiotic anyway...no need to defend.

    By Blogger Bubbles, Ink., at 2:47 PM, February 09, 2005  

  • pt's fans will continue to do what they want to...i was just talking to him...i was trying to convey {to him} that it is 'hard' for me to see him defend himself, and i wanted to protect him in some way...leaving it to 'us' suggests only that if someone wants to do it, it shouldn't be him...and i appologize to you for lumping you together with me in my thoughts...i think that we're kinda "vex diagam-ing" in our comments to him.

    By Blogger robyn, at 3:09 PM, February 09, 2005  

  • This makes me laugh because in high school, my best friends and I would always give the name Josephina Petrillo. We liked this name because people couldn't spell it and because then we would fight over if it was spelled with a "ph" or an "f" just to really confuse them. Also I think it gave us the anonymity that we were looking for. I completely hate the overfamilization of the grocery clerk thanking me by name when I don't even know them! Good post!

    By Blogger Rebecca, at 4:39 PM, February 09, 2005  

  • Hey...you'll find someone for that sunset moment, and if you don't, you're sure welcome to join my parents and me in March! At 75 and 78 they can still enjoy a cocktail hour! (my idea of humor if you were wondering)

    By Blogger Carol, at 4:44 PM, February 09, 2005  

  • Okay, I'm going to jump back in as I did weeks ago, because of Robotnik's comment (R: I was wondering where you had gone from certain other websites!).

    On Being A Blogger:
    Take a deep breath and hit "post" and appreciate what you have written. Find the satisfaction or therapeutic catharsis or social networking or writing practice that you gain from your blog and appreciate it. Find your reason for doing this, and write it with a marker on a recipe card and tape it to the wall above your monitor as a reminder, if necessary.

    I say this Because:
    Comments naturally leave an open forum for any of 6 billion people on Earth to give some feedback. While you can have control over what you are posting to the planet, if you leave the comments open, that's one bit of content that's out of your hands. The comments are wonderful for generating healthy, often hilarious discussions, but you will get a variety of input, good and bad. People will interpret things about you based on what personal details you have chosen to share. And, in reading many weblogs, there isn't a SINGLE one out there (with decent traffic) that hasn't had a healthy pepper shake of less-than-glowing personal feedback that has then led to BoringCommentDebate ("go away if you're going to be mean", "I'm rubber and you're glue", "I do this for myself so I don't care"). (Todd, I'm generalizing here, not directing this at you.)

    I completely agree with Robotnik on this, ignore or delete. Ignore. Or if it really bothers, delete. But leave it at that. There are too many websites out there right now in which mob mentalities seem to rule the comments sections and dissenting opinions create intense flamewars (on one site, people Googled the email address and outed the person's work and home info - scary). It's just so... distracting...

    So Todd - if you are happy with your content and satisfied with achieving your goal for creating your weblog, then that's great! And don't even give a passing shot to negative comments. Nobody can please everyone, but just as they don't really know you, you don't really know them - so bottom line, IT'S NOT WORTH getting into the debate.

    Anonymous Jennifer (the happily anonymous Jennifer)

    P.S. Recently on BlueJake he actually went as far as to ASK for people to start giving him meaningful, even critical feedback on his photos, because he was tired of the usual "great pic", "totally agree" stuff. Now THAT was one of the most refreshing things I've read in a while.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:11 AM, February 10, 2005  

  • Tks Anon J , LX, & Robyn for your insightful comments regarding bashers. From where I sit, I look at blogs as above the line and below the line. Above the line are the actual posts, the writing, and meaning of the blog. Isn't that what you all come here to read? Below the line are opinions from readers. Interesting for sure, but sidebars. So I don't understand the 'boring' comments. If you don't like the comment banter, why mess with it? If you're bored with the actual writing, I could see cause for departure, but just because there is some BS going on below the line, I'm not sure why that even matters? Anyway, your opinions are always valued here, as always...PT

    By Blogger Plantation, at 1:22 AM, February 10, 2005  

  • This horse was beat into the ground.... can't wait to see what cause to reply/post the next blog ignites within the masses! Keep on writing, my friend....Keep On Blogging

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:49 AM, February 10, 2005  

  • Phbbbt

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:09 AM, February 10, 2005  

  • The comments (sidebars), to me are integral to the posting (unless comments are turned off by the author). It lets us (the reader) know of how others are thinking/feeling/what they're perceiving/their experiences/etc. It's a connection we make with other readers. Much like a book-club, when you discuss w/other readers what you have read. If it deteriorates in playground-style bashing, it becomes boring. That's merely what I meant.

    Your stuff, Todd, is sometimes banal and boring (whose isn't?), as is mine; I still choose to read it as it's just a piece of the mozaic in your life. Who in the feck can say that every goddamned day is stellar and worth writing about? Still, we take them as mere stitches in a larger quilt. It's the SUM that matters.

    The banter between readers is interesting; it lets us see what or if we share anyting together. But the tit-for-tat is just wasteful. That's all.

    And yes, this horse is so dead; they've already made the glue.

    By Blogger Bubbles, Ink., at 10:53 AM, February 10, 2005  

  • 1. I also dislike when they ask for my name at Starbucks and feel compelled to yell it out...esp when I'm the only one waiting for a coffe to be ready.
    2. What ever happened to Small, Medium, and Large?

    By Blogger Lyss, at 1:27 PM, February 10, 2005  

  • While La Chat's away ....

    Look at all those comments! I won't even try to catch up ...

    By Blogger La Chat Noir, at 4:42 PM, February 10, 2005  

  • This was a good post to incite comments apparently...aside from my usual go back and reread to catch your typos, here's my 2 cents on the name thing, not sure if anyone's mentioned it yet:

    As easy as my name is to read, people refuse to pronounce it right, so I hate giving it out and having it announced incorrently.


    By Blogger Queen Helene, at 9:12 PM, February 10, 2005  

  • Queenie..if you're gonna ding me on typos, you might wanna check your own first...{sticking my tongue out at you}

    By Blogger Plantation, at 9:28 PM, February 10, 2005  

  • Whoa, what's with the new Blogger comment style? I see everyone's picture...sorta nice!

    By Blogger Plantation, at 9:30 PM, February 10, 2005  

  • As an employee of Starbucks for over about 6 years, I found this to be a very interesting scenario.

    1. I hate giving my name anywhere that I go.

    2. I hated asking people for their names @ Starbucks (luckily this is not big in our region anymore)

    3. I think is hilarious nobody noticed you name on your card for such an extended period of time. (Perhaps they thought it to be your boyfriends? ;) hehehe J/K)

    4. I had two regulars that always called me the wrong name....... everyday ....I never had the heart to tell them that. :P

    I have always loved Seinfeld. This would have made a Classic (hehehe) episode.

    But seriously, it is perople like you who continue to allow me to enjoy my Job. Always befriend your local Baristas......

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:36 AM, May 23, 2005  

  • Hey Anon, I truly value you baristas. I love Starbuck's. I really should quit my job and go work there. Thanks for reading.

    By Blogger Plantation, at 12:15 AM, May 28, 2005  

  • Hey, this is my first time reading (I clicked over from Midwestern girl), but what a great/funny post. I've never been bothered about being asked my name at Starbucks, but then again I don't go there often.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say to that "Anon" person who posted that "diagnosis" of you...didn't he just describe like half of America? Perhaps even half of the world? Either that or I spend a lot of time with a lot of borderline personalities. :)

    Anyway, very much enjoying your blog, Todd.

    By Anonymous Susan, at 4:42 AM, June 27, 2005  

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