My Starbucks Alter Ego

It’s a well known fact that most people don’t bother giving their real names to Starbucks’ employees.  I am not sure I understand why that is, it’s not like they’re asking us for our contact information but I am one of those people who has a Starbucks alter ego, and not because I am fiercely guarded or private.

Every Starbucks in my city knows me by the name ‘Donna’.

My one and only attempt at giving my real name was an epic fail that went something like this:

‘Your name?’



‘Yolanda – you can write that on my grande cup.’


“No – Yolanda.”


“No – Yolanda with an ‘a’ at the end.”

By now the line for skimmed lattes, Capuccino and Americanos was snaking out the door and spilling into the road and the young cashier’s smile had been replaced by furrowed brow.

I could feel the tension rise like hot foam in that coffee palace so I said:

‘Just call me Donna.”

Maybe it’s my accent? I like to think I still sound South African but when I last visited ‘the old country’ my husband and I were repeatedly asked ‘where are you from?’ so I am guessing the raw flatness of our accent has been warmed and lifted by Canadian cheeriness.

I don’t believe my name is particularly unusual or difficult, yet my own grandparents couldn’t pronounce my name and my mother remains stubbornly undecided to this day, on whether she meant to name me Ulanda or Yolanda.

So I am Starbucks Donna but I am also not.  She may look like me but she is not me.  She has nary a care in the world and her coffee is always hot.


Do you use another name? Why?


27 thoughts on “My Starbucks Alter Ego

  1. Yolanda You made me smile. With a name as plain as Kath you would think it would be easy to get right but for some reason when ever I visited the states they would call me Kat. I even had someone ask me is that Kat as in kitty cat? So I can only imagine the different names you get. I use Kath for my orders here in Oz and no one mixes my name up, a bit boring you see.

    • Oh I like ‘boring’! Honestly wish I had a simpler, shorter name. I find people here in Canada like nicknames and both my sons had a hard time in school getting the teachers (in particular) to use their full names.

  2. This is hilarious, Donna! Where have I been? I had no idea people use an alias when ordering at Starbucks. I do understand your frustration. No one can ever get my last name correct. People always want to add the letter “Z” on the end. I have several nicknames, but my favorite is “Jilly Bean.” xo

  3. Before you, I had only met one other Yolanda (someone I met in law school) ~ it’s not a difficult name, but it isn’t as common as Donna . . . and, perhaps, beyond the ken of harried Starbucks’ baristas.

    One night in college, after repeating our names several times without success, we agreed to be “Delores” and “Daisy” for the evening. :mrgreen:

  4. I’m obviously not familiar with the Starbucks thing – why do they want to know your name? Either way, I don’t think Yolanda is difficult, but maybe it’s a little fun to have an alter ego, even if it’s just when you’re getting coffee 🙂

    • They write your name on your cup so you know which drink is yours – useful when Starbucks is jam-packed with people. But I find it irrelevant when there are 1-3 people in there. I envy anyone who has not yet been sucked into the Starbucks universe, Andrea 🙂 It does become something of an obsession…

  5. I’m not a Starbucks fan so didn’t know about the name thing. I don’t go by any other name that I’m aware of 😄 but I used to use my maiden name for an old job I had. It caused so many mix ups in the end it was a nuisance. Now I stick to just the one.

    • Your name is perfect Jenny 🙂 Believe it or not my youngest son went through a phase where he called me Jen and Jenny. I work with someone who insists on using her maiden name at work, yet her credit cards etc are all in her married name and it certainly has caused some frustration 🙂

  6. I didn’t know about the SB aliases and I am a regular. My name is easy so I don’t have too much trouble although I find it’s good to enunciate properly or it gets shortened to Kay instead of Kate.

  7. Ha! the name thing. When I say ‘Lynn’ many people hear ‘Gwen’?? Lynn is my middle name, so when we used to have a landline any caller asking for ‘Eva’ (my first name) was quickly identified as a telemarketer. How did my parents know telemarketer would exist and now don’t exist again with cellphone only life?

  8. Renee was my middle name, but I never used the first one so I dropped it when I got married, adopting my maiden name as middle. It’s all a bit convoluted. But, that being said, besides having a French codename for my traveling girlfriend’s club–Renee obviously isn’t French enough–you can call me Brigitte.

  9. I just want to say LOL. Or those other 3 letters that start with W. Why is it so hard to get names straight? Especially easy ones like Yolanda and Luanne. 😉

  10. I was going to add my youngest daughter is named Felicia, which she is called all sorts of nice ways of saying this happy name. Her good friend from Albania, on the other hand, is called weird ways of pronouncing her name: Yonida. Yo-nee-duh. I love her name but she cringes. I can imagine Donna being much easier.
    My maiden last name is British/English: Oldrieve. I laughed when my friends nicknamed me ‘Overdrive’ and since my initials were REO I enjoyed Speedwagon.. . Smiles, Robin

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