These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

don't call me roel, no one does

we've lived in the area for about three and a half years. since then, at my job, i've encountered dozens and dozens of people that i've interviewed or talked to. many of these people i talk to repeatedly. if they see me, they know me. if i introduce myself, they know i'm a reporter for the paper..

however, there is a big problem. some of them don't seem to understand that my name is not raul. it's frustrating, really.

it happens on occasion, but i guess i'm a bit more sensative to it these days because it's happened several times. dawn says it's because don't take the time to listen to the name and they hear raul, since that's a widely known latino name and roel is pretty much unknown outside of certain south texas counties. (only a handful of roels live in mich.).

here are a few examples of foul-ups with my name.

1) i interviewed a well-known latina in our community for an article several weeks ago. i introduced myself as roel from the paper. she said hello. very friendly. we talked, laughed. she knew who the hell i was. then three times towards the end of the conversation, she said, "you know, raul..." i cringed, closed my eyes, and shook my head. this woman should have known better. she just wasn't listening. or doesn't care. or both. either way, i was taken aback.

2) i received a letter from a well-known couple affiliated with furniture in our area. it was a letter for goings on in a local organization. i looked at the address and saw it was addressed to raul. once again, i shook my head. what must the people in the building thought when they received it? chuckled maybe?

3) i get this periodic letter from a group on the campus of the college here in town. i've spoken with members of the group on various occasions. they deal with many nationalities. every time i get a letter inviting me to the group's event, it's sent to raul.

4) i was at the local fiesta last week and was approached by a latino who i've spoken to once. he knows my face, i guess, because i talked to him ages ago. perhaps someone pointed him out to me. i was not working and had no notepad in my hand. the guy couldn't pronounce my name. he asked me how it was pronounced. i said it. he said, ruil. i repeated myself. i don't know if he got it or not. the conversaton went on.

there was my former boss who interviewed me. we talked three or four times before i showed up for the first day. he kept telling people the new guy was named raul. he was asked, "i thought his name was roel?" jerk off.

then there's the common "roll" or "role." i supposed people who see my name in print automatically associate it with joel. for you texas folk, up north joel is like "roll" just drop the "r" and add a "j," and not pronounced "joe-el." so maybe i can forgive those folks. however, even after i say it's "row-el" calling, they still refer to me as "roll."

then there are those who get it right. many, or most, are anglos. they are curious bout my name. they ask how to pronounce it. i spell it out for them and say, it's like noel, just take out the "n" and replace it with an "r." they sound it out themselves and often say, it's a cool name. i smile and all is well.

i think i'm going to have to get tough here. whenever someone mispronounced my name i will simply have to crorrect them. i'm a bit tired of it.

people need to care a little more who they're talking to, or pay more attention and not be self-involved or absorbed with their own stuff and not really listen to me.

i was trying to come up with a witty ditty to finish off. but i failed.
so roel's signing off.


Blogger Jessica said...

dude. get over it. honestly, it's a common mistake, just like jessica and jennifer. or michelle and michael. it's part of the human's brain: we see the first and last letter (even if it's in our mind's eye), and we fill in the middle with what we think should be in the middle.

As for pronouncing your name, tell people it's like NOEL, you know, the Christmas carol, except with an R.

I think you'll have to start introducing yourself with a pronunciation:

Hi. I'm Roel from the newspaper. That's Ro-El. It's like NOEL, as in "The first Noel," except with an R. I was wondering if I could interview you today?

And if they still mess it up, cut them with your butterfly knife. (You're Mexican: you must carry one on you.)

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