A rose by any name smells …

… just as sweet?

Well, yes, if you are a rose.

Not so if you are a human, especially a youngster surrounded by mischievous classmates bent on having fun!

An appearance and name to help you blend with the crowd is the best way to avoid becoming the butt of daily teasing and miserable growing up years.

So, while I’m against racial slurs of any sort, especially when articulated on TV or radio with their exponential reach, I’m a bit surprised that no one has ever made fun of Delhi Chief Minister’s name till a prominent New Zealand TV host deliberately mispronounced it causing an uproar.

With the best of intentions, how does one pronounce Shelia’s surname?

This reminds me of the poor cashier at Cold Storage’s Great World City outlet.

Every time I was in her check-out lane, I couldn’t help but stare at her name tag. It said Chow See Fut (OK, that wasn’t the name but believe me, something far worse!)

So one day, when I was her last customer in the queue, (and there was no one else waiting) I asked her quietly whether she knew that her name was inappropriate, especially for someone checking out food and vegetables.

She sighed and said yes, other customers had also remarked on it but what to do, her parents gave her that name and that was what her employer knows her as.

A few more times being served by this cashier, I made a suggestion: “You can keep your own name on your employer’s records. But you could ask your employer for a tag with a less unusual name?”

Again she replied that other customers had also made the same suggestion.

I decided I should stop making remarks about her name.

Many weeks later, I had a pleasant surprise when I happened to be at her check-out lane again.

Chow See Fut had a new name tag! She is now known as Cathy Chow (again not the real new name, to protect her privacy).

As the weeks rolled into months, I noticed that as Cathy Chow, this cashier appeared to have blossomed from the mousy downcast girl (who probably dreaded every kay poh customer’s insensitive remarks about her name).

She actually had her hair coloured, started wearing make-up, including mascara!

So next time someone says “a rose by any name,” tell him to try aiming to become prime minister if his I/C says he’s called Chow See Fut.


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