My co-worker Stacy is leaving the Lawrence Hall of Science at the end of this week, bringing an end to an era. It's not that remarkable of an era, but it's an era all the same, and Stacy is a very pleasant person to work with. Stacy is sweet, reads and discusses interesting things, and is absolutely adorable. She also joins the illustrious pantheon of Front Desk employees with transcendentally amusing names. She goes by Stacy, but her real first name is Nhu (pronounced NOO). Her old boyfriend had the last name of Ho, setting up a potential married name worthy of Snoop Dogg, but they broke up.
I don't mean to disparage anyone's name - in Vietnamese, Stacy's name translates to "flower that blooms at midnight" - but many of them are a great deal funnier in English. My Korean co-worker has a name that translates to "prince of stars," but in English, it's just "Soon," leading to lots of amusing confusion, especially when he's late.
I don't know if Ai's name translates to anything interesting in Japanese, but it's pronounced like "eye." Misunderstandings abound. Example:
Supervisor: Thanks for counting out, Sean.
Sean: No problem.
Supervisor: Who's going to sweep the upper level for visitors?
Sean: Oh, Ai will.
Supervisor: Sean, you don't have to do that - you counted out, after all. But, if you insist, go right ahead.
(Crowd of visitors waiting to pay admission. Ai returns to the desk from a break)
Sean: (to second person in line) Ai can help you over there. (points to stylish Japanese girl waiting attentively)
Customer: Great! (walks halfway towards Ai. Glances back at Sean expectantly. Dejectedly returns to the line.)
It's very difficult for us to talk about her without sounding like rednecks. Ai is late today. Ai is on a break. Ai is the purtiest girl in the whole wide world, fer sure!
There is a Romanian girl at the front Desk named Brandusa, but she really deserves her own separate entry later.
We used to have a girl at the Front Desk whose given name was Bich Jennifer Le (Bich is pronounced BEEK). Not suprisingly, she went by Jenny. She used to tell about how the first day of school was invariably nightmarish for her, as she had to sit through tittering during attendance every single year.
"Here. Um... I go by Jenny, thanks."
"I go by Jenny, thanks."
"It's Jenny, OK?"
Finally, there was a year when the teachers merely called her Jennifer. Until a substitute came in one day, and read her name as "Jennifer Le Bitch." (Cue rim shot.)
She also has a cousin named Phuc, which is almost too good to be true. I really hope they hang out sometimes, and have bad reputations, so their relatives can talk about that no good Phuc 'n Bich all the time*. God bless the nomenclature of Vietnam, says I.
[*I wish swearing still seemed illicit for me. I was reminded of this Wednesday night when Michele was adding "without a shirt" as a fortune cookie suffix, instead of "in bed." And today when my mom dropped a pair of pliers, and then an f-bomb, in that order. Profanity just isn't shocking or taboo anymore. The only way to get a rise out of my parents these days is to point out the similarities between George W. Bush and JFK.]