When I was much younger, maybe in first grade, I hated my name. All my friends had really pretty feminine names like Alysia, Josie, or Lauren. I was stuck with Sydney. To me it never sounded like a girl’s name. Whenever I heard it I always thought about my male classmate that I shared the same name with or the ugly sloth from the movie Ice Age that always made me feel mocked. 

     Years passed and in middle school I still didn’t feel comfortable with my name. Something about the way it sounded or the way it rolled off my tongue made me cringe. I remember doing several art and lacrosse camps the summer of my fifth grade year. I asked all of the counselors to call me Lizzie. I had previously had a teammate named Lizzie and I always admired her. My middle name is Elizabeth so I figured it would make sense. When we returned to school I asked my teachers to call me Lizzie as well.

     My parents had never talked about how they named my brother and me, and it was never something I thought about asking them. When I asked them a couple of weeks ago they said they liked the way it sounded. My mom went on to explain that she wanted Olivia or Elizabeth, but my dad had put his foot down for Sydney. He found every excuse not to name me something else. My mom didn’t mind much, in the end I think she liked Sydney the best too. 

     As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more accepting of my name. Especially after I learned it’s derived from an Anglo-Saxon name meaning wide island or water meadow. My whole life I’ve been around water. I grew up with a cottage on Burt Lake. Every summer my family would sit on the end of our dock and we would all play in the water. We would take boat trips around the lake together, and my parents would always look at the other cottages while my brother and I stared into the water looking for fish. Even in the winter months when the lake would freeze over, we would take the snowmobiles on the lake and ride them until there was no more sunlight.

     For years I struggled with my name, and I never took the time to consider who else struggled with theirs. I think many of my friends and people around still struggle with their names. Many of my friends go by their last name, or some shortened version of their name. I’ve always wondered why parents name their children names like Jonathon or Zachary if they have the intention of shortening their name to John or Zach their entire life? Why would someone name their child Josephine and never call them Josephine, but Josie instead? Why not name her Josie to begin with?

We Almost Failed a Health Inspection Because I did What!?

I had only been working at the cafe for about two weeks. I often worked the morning shifts so I could get work out of the way and enjoy most of my days. Working at this cafe was my first job and I was still trying to get in the groove of things.

     I was about two hours into my shift as a barista when every employee started to scramble. It was a fairly busy time for us, so I didn’t think much of it at the time. Not too long after, one of the managers in training came up to me with labels. The labels contained expiration dates for a lot of the smoothie bases. Of course I was confused because I had never seen these before. He told me to be sure to put the labels on the bases because the health inspector was coming to check everything out.

     I put the labels on the bases and got back to work, there was no time to be wasted when customers were waiting. About ten minutes later the manager came up to me and told me to be extra cautious with my hand washing. I assured her I would be (we were in the middle of a pandemic, so I was always being cautious.) Before she left she told me to change the sticker on my sanitizing water that I use to clean my station with. Without hesitation, I went to the back room and got a new sticker, then got back to work. 

     Time flew by as I continued to make coffee and slice bagels. I heard my manager call for me. I turned the corner to the back room to find her with the health inspector. Before I could introduce myself she asked me about the sanitizing water. I wasn’t worried about it, after all I had done everything I was told to do. I changed the sticker, and I didn’t hesitate to tell them that. I could see my manager’s mouth drop beneath her mask, her eyes got wide. “You just changed the sticker?”

     “Yes” I said, “ that’s what you told me to do.” I heard the inspector start to tap at the screen of her IPad. That was the moment I knew I screwed up. 

     “When I said change the sticker, I meant change the water in it as well. That’s how we do things here.” She said. “You can get back to work.”

     The weight of what I had done sat on me all day. “How could I be so blonde?” Near the end of my shift my manager let everyone know that we had passed our health inspection. I was relieved, without a doubt.

     I’ll always be changing water now.