Do you remember the first time a checker, barista, produce clerk, or bank teller remembered your name? It feels good. It feels like you are part of the “in” crowd. You are a regular now, and it’s nice to be a regular.
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie.
Yesterday I stopped at a cafe on my way to work and the woman who took my order wrote my name on my cup and thanked me by name without asking what it was. It felt good. This woman, who I have seen a lot over the last year, remembered my name. Today I stopped at the same cafe to get my free drink I earned on my last trip. A different person, who I also see all the time, was at the register and also knew my name. After a year of frequenting this cafe, I was now a regular. People knew my name. I smiled all the way to work. And then it hit me—I "checked in" to the shop with their rewards app from my phone. It has my name. I felt defeated.
When you go somewhere you have never been, or rarely visit, it can be disconcerting for someone to use your name. I know I always start just a little and for a second wonder how they know. I forget for a second that I swiped my rewards card, or handed over my driver’s license to cash a check. In those situations, I am pretty sure that type of personal touch is part of a larger business model. There is probably research somewhere that says using someone’s name prompts them to return and spend lots of money. In the end—it’s not personal, it’s business.*
I didn't think my place was that kind of place. I thought my place was different. Everyone is always so nice, and they always make my drink hot enough. Sometimes they give me free tea to take home and try. Now I know the truth. I am just one of many "regulars".
I miss my small town. Today the city felt too big and too impersonal.
(Side note: I did a Google search about using a person’s name, and there are tons of articles written about its effectiveness in personal and business situations.)
*I love it when I inadvertently sneak in a movie quote.