Dear Blake,

I’ve been going to the same restaurant for more than five years now. Several of the employees have worked there for years. I feel at this point, I should know their names, but they don’t wear name tags, and I’m embarrassed to ask what their names are after so many years.

I like calling people by their names, but I’m a little shy and awkward and don’t know how to ask. Should I just keep our weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) exchanges at surface-level chitchat without worrying about what their names are?

Signed, Tommy
From Davenport, Iowa

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Dear Tommy,

It’s not such a terrible thing that you don’t know any of their names. I suggest that you make up nicknames for them, and hopefully they won’t feel insulted and throw you out of the restaurant. If a server constantly gets your breakfast order mixed up with another customer’s, call that person “Scrambled Brains”. If a server isn’t very customer friendly and always seems to be in a bad mood, call that person “PMS”, even if it’s a man. If you have a server that’s a female that talks nonstop, call her “Crystal”, short for “Crystal Meth”. And finally, be sure and call the chef a very complimentary nickname, because if you want to eat there again, you’ll have to have someone else arrive before you, order your meal, and have it sitting on the table before you show up. But if you order it yourself, as a precaution, bring a stomach pump. I hope this helps.

Blake

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