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“Z” As In Zebra

Updated on July 7, 2009


I have a “Z” in the middle of my last name. It’s the letter that always gets left out or replaced with an “S” and while most of you think I’m going to break out into my own version of “Liza With A Z”, I can assure you that I won’t (okay mostly because this is my written and not my video blog). No, what this entry is about are the words that we all associate with the letters that are difficult to discern from one another when talking to someone on a phone. My father always spelled our last name and when he got to the “Z” he would say, “Z as in Zebra” and what I noticed was that my brother and I both do the same thing to this day. Now while I realize that there are certain industries and the military that probably have approved words that should be associated with each letter, I recently had to give an airline confirmation number that consisted only of letters and I had to laugh at the words that came to mind. “Z” as in zebra – Don’t Get Me Started!

I guess I shouldn’t give the reservation number exactly but this should give you an idea. Some of the letters were NWIGS – the first words that came into my mind when having to tell this to someone on the phone to make a change in the reservation, no joke, these were the first words that came to my mind and I quickly changed them for obvious reasons. “N” as in Nancy, “W” as in Wig, “I” as in icicle, “G” as in Gay and “S” as in sissy. I don’t know why these awful words came to my mind but they did. And so I began to do what I always do which is to take it to a ridiculous conclusion. I wondered if given these letters if anyone else in the world would come up with the word, “wig” for “W” – I don’t think so. I wondered if there were “butcher” choices like, “N” as in Nagahide, “W” as in Washington, “I” as in “I’s a coming”, “G” as in Gator and “S” as in Saddle. I don’t know why when I went the opposite way I became a cowboy, it just sort of happened and then I started thinking about Brokeback Mountain and realized that the answers were probably not as butch as I thought they would be originally.

The thing is that as we become more and more involved in these social networking sites, texting and chatting on our cell phones we fail to have the real sort of communication there once was by dealing with one another face to face. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, while most feel as though we’re communicating more than ever I think that the means we’ve created to communicate leads to more miscommunication than ever. I don’t care how you capitalize or underline your thoughts in an email, there’s still no getting around it, the person getting the email is open to interpret the email however they choose. What we also fail to realize is that how we interpret these things is based on our own mood, lack of sleep, hunger, etc. at the exact moment we read it. Often times I’ll start to read an email from someone and just think, “I’m in no mood for this.” So I come back to it later. I think more people should do this. I’ll never forget this one time a fellow employee sent an email that said, “I have read your email four times and I waited until I clamed down enough to write this response.” By using the word “clamed” instead of “calmed” it showed me that they had not calmed down at all and indeed the words that disjointedly spewed after that first sentence proved me correct in my assumption. The same can be said for texts or phone calls. People don’t realize that we’re constantly multi-tasking ourselves into an early grave so while I’m texting with you, I’m cooking dinner, feeding the cats and scratching my ass, all the while thinking about what’s going to happen tomorrow. While we’re talking on the phone, I’m writing emails and my next blog entry. You see few people understand the whole “undivided attention” thing because our attentions are demanded by so many people so much of the time.

So the real question is whether or not you’ve ever given any thought to the words that you use when on the phone with someone and trying to understand that you’re saying, “B” instead of “D” or something like that? Do you use the normal words that everyone uses, “C” as in Charlie or do you go more avant garde, more “dare to be different seminar” and use “C” as in Chamois? One thing is for sure, when you have a “Z” in your name, it pays to make sure people spell it correctly. This was never more clear to me than when I had a supporting role in the worst film in recorded history. I was okay that they used another “S” instead of a “Z” on my trailer door and my paycheck because I could still cash the check and I had my own trailer. I was new to the industry and didn’t want to make waves so I just let it go. When the film opened, there I was in the theater and after sitting through the movie (which indeed became the worst film ever filmed) I waited anxiously to see my name roll by on the credits. I counted all the lead people’s names and right after the fourteenth one my name appeared. It appeared misspelled with the “S” and not the “Z” so my fifteen seconds of fame came with a misspelled name. From then on I made sure that on everything and every time I spelled my name for anyone I said, “Z as in zebra.” – Don’t Get Me Started!

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    • relache profile image

      Raye 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Oy, I get Z issues with my last name too!

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 8 years ago from Seattle

      I always do Z as in Zebra with my last name too. But I have to say that when it come to other letters, I never know what I'm going to say until it comes out, and sometimes I laugh at what comes.