The meanderings of a recovering ex-expat with the occasional identity crisis
In Hong Kong, recruiting an English-speaking Account Representative is easier than in China, as English is one of the two official languages. The issue I have is with the names that the Hong Kong population, particularly young women, have given themselves.
We had ten short-listed resumes. Four of the resumes had the names of “Queenie” – Queenie Goh, Queenie Tsai, Queenie Tsui, and Queenie Lee. Two resumes had the name of “Twinkie” – Twinkie To and Twinkie Gan. One Boogie Wang, one Pinky Lo, one Kinky Ho, and finally, a normal name – Chloe Chu.
Out of the four Queenies, only one showed up and was unremarkable. None of the Twinkies were to be seen. Boogie sashayed into the interview about 15 minutes late and asked if we provided parking for his motorcycle in our office. When we said we didn’t, he left.
Chloe Chu arrived on time, dressed in a grey woolen skirt, grey tights, and white shirt with a big, flouncy collar, which was buttoned up all the way to her neck and made her look almost Elizabethan. But she otherwise looked and acted normally.
After the usual pre-interview chit chat, we got down to business.
“Chloe, I see from your resume that you have three years of export experience. Can you describe to me some of your job responsibilities?”
“Yes…but…sorry…Madam. It’s CHLO, not Chloe. My name…the pronunciation.”
“Yes, Madam. The “CH” is not pronounced like a “K”, but “CH”, like a CHoo CHoo train.”
“You know, Madam…like the CELLO, what Yo Yo Ma plays.” CHlo even acted out the motion of playing a cello with her arms. With her Elizabethan collar, she could have passed for a regular in the London Philharmonic.
“You mean, your name is CHLO CHU, and you don’t pronounce the “E” either?”
“You mean “CH”, like CHina or CHunky Monkey?!!”
Throughout the rest of the interview, I couldn’t get over the name Chlo Chu – literally. Every time I said the name, it was like a tongue twister ready to mess me up in the tradition of, How can a crabby clam cram in a clean cream can? I couldn’t imagine an ESL speaker being able to pronounce it. And who the hell would spell her name Chloe, only not to pronounce it like that at all?
I also couldn’t see our customers meeting Chloe and having to be educated about the “proper” way to say her name, while getting a Yo Yo Ma air cello performance. And then our customers stammering through sentences every time they had to address her by name. I was now desperately wishing I had a Queenie or a Twinkie in front of me.
After Chlo Chu left I was despondent. I thought the final two candidates – Pinky Lo and Kinky Ho – were some sort of practical joke my Manager had slipped on me. Like a punchline to a bad joke that your Uncle Lester – the one who still wore 1978 polyester plaid – repeatedly told, but nobody got and fewer cared. But then I looked at the calendar – September 21 and not April 1. And my Manager was on the phone with Kinky, giving her directions to our office.
Pinky Lo and Kinky Ho burst into our office the way an Asian pop-star duo would appear on stage in a puff of smoke surrounded by sparkles and shiny stars. They smelled like strawberries. Pinky was aptly named, as everything she wore was pink – from her hair beret, to her pink lip gloss, pink purse, pink loafers, and pink, imitation Chanel outfit.
Kinky Ho, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to get her style groove on. Kinky wore black and white checkered high-tops with argyle socks, a black denim miniskirt with a big green neon belt and an over-sized purple sweatshirt with the words, MISS THANG, in big bold yellow neon. She had earrings that looked like palm trees or gutted sharks.
As it was getting late, I let my Manager interview Pinky, while I dealt with Kinky.
Kinky Ho had OK oral skills. However, what finally led me to disqualify her was her English writing test.
For the test, Kinky had to read a letter from an imaginary customer, Mr. X, who had just received a shipment of custom plastic ballpoint pens with imprint on the casing. The pen cartridge and casing were packaged separately, according to Mr. X’s instructions. But when Mr. X attempted to assemble the pens, he claimed that the cartridges would not fit in the casing and that the pens leaked.
Kinky was given a rejected pen sample to play with and told to answer the letter in a manner she thought would resolve the situation. This is her reply:
Dear Mr. X:
I am now your Service Girl with our firm for future relations you want to have with me. It’s with great super pleasure that I will be the one for serviceing to you only. Please let me know if I make mistakes! We only want to please you super extra good!
For the your last order for the plastic ballpoint pens and writing, we’re so very sorry they are the bad quality for you. I’m so sorry! We will try to do better!
You know you must sticks the pen ink cartridge very very harder into small plastic open area many times go all the way through. And do not stop if too tight feeling inside. You just push Hard! Or else many inks will come at once and make a big mess on your body.
After you are stuck inside the cartridge, please put on cap fast! Or else ink will come out, maybe spray! Be careful here! It is the mess.
IF you are not sure how to do that, please let me know your Skype and we can chat live about that and I show you pen step by step to screw it tight. My Skype is KinkyHoHK. Hope to hear your good news soon!
Kinky Ho (you can call me Kinky!
Today, our Hong Kong office is Managed by Janice, with her assistant Shirley. Both are transfers from our Taiwan office. In Hong Kong we have hired Lily, Yuki, Trista and Yendi. I’ve yet to tell Yendi that she’s two letters away from becoming a “large hairy creature resembling a human or bear, said to live in the highest part of the Himalayas”. (Source: Google web definitions).
So far, their names haven’t detracted from their job performance, which is good. Sometimes I wish I had a more exotic name than Susan and that my name was known for something other than a big rotating disc in the center of a table.
But judging from the popular names in Hong Kong today, according to a posting on Yelp, I think I’ll stick with Susan for now:
Bevan, Howan, Irvan, Jamnan, Kenathan, Kerlan, Lidian, Millan, Pian
Addy, Ailie, Alby, Binny, Bonkie, Boogie, Brankie, Bunty, Chammy, Chapi, Charmy, Chillie, Cini, Cliffy, Cordy, Creamie, Danky, Dawnly, Deki, Ducky, Engee, Esky, Euthy, Fandy, Fanny, Feli, Ferqie, Flossie, Fonny, Gally, Garie, Gawdy, Gayee, Glendy, Grandy, Hoiley, Janny, Jassy, Jervie, Joby, Keeny, Kingdy, Kinki, Kondi, Landy, Livesey, Loby, Lomy, Matchy, Milky, Oddie, Pansy, Petty, Piggy, Pinky, Polvy, Queenie, Reddy, Rimy, Sammi, Sheldy, Sicky, Spacey, Starry, Suki, Sunny, Takey, Takkie, Tandy, Tanny, Thankie Yue, Truly, Tucky, Tunney, Twinkie, Vandie, Vany, Vianney, Vigny, Waiky, Wanky, Wency, Wenny, Wicky, Wilkie, Willie Bunda, Wincey, Winci, Winky, Wylie, Yammie, Yuki, Zacky
Aegidia, Camelia, Fawnia, Flavia, Fonia, Lucylia, Rodenia, Shelia, Zenobia
Anman, Chelman, Daeman, Edman, Fatman, German, Goman, Heman, Hillman, Hurman, Housman, Hyman, Iman, Kingman, Lyman, Silly Man, Tasman, Wayman, Zetman
Addison, Adson, Anson, Banson, Bronson, Clemson, Cusson, Dickson, Edson, Edison, Garrison, Glynson, Kingson, Kinson, Nickerson, Parkson, Quonson, Rayson, Samson, Stimson, Twison, Vinson, Winson
Bear, Beauty Bee, Buffalo, Bull, Cat, Dolphin, Eagle, Fawn, Fish, Fox, Frog, Jackal, Lion, Mantis, Raccoon
Bright, Busy, Charming, Empty, Friendly, Fun, Funny, Gay Man, Joker, Lone, Lovely, Moody, Nausea, Normal, Open, Serene, Shaggy, Smart Man, Sterner, Stoner, Tall, True, Unique, Witty
Achilles, Adonis, Andes, Antares, Apollo, Ares, Athena, Atticus, Brilliance, Caesar, Glory, Hercules, Incredible, Ignatius, Jesus Christ, Kaiser, King, Lancelot, Mankind, Maximillian, Midas, Morpheus, Napoleon, Ophelia, Orion, Pius, Pluto, Pollux, Princeton, Professor, Saint, Superman, Titan, Venus, Winsome, Xenophon, Zenith, Zeus, Zillion, Zion
Adolf, Avis, Bentley, Benz, Biggie, Bismarck, Bowie, Brando, Bronson, Cher, Cinderella, Churchill, Clinton, Conan, Darwin, Dickens, Edison, Elton, Elvis, Farrah, Ferris Bueller, Fido Dido, Fonz, Franco, Kermit, Hermes, Hitler, Honda, Iggy, Indy, Japan, Kawai, Kennedy, Lenin, Lincoln, Manson, Ozzie, Piaget, Reba, Ringo, Skipper, Sony, Sting, Tigger, Truman, Tweety, Vienna, Yonex, Yorick, Yugo, Zenon, Zorro
Almond, Apple, Banana, Beany, Cherry, Chocolate, Coffee, Cookie, Fruit, Kiwi, Lemon, Mango, Margarine, Marmalade, Milk, Nestea, Oreo, Pineapple Bun, Potato, Prawn
Autumn, Born, Chlorine, Diamond, Gamma, Glacier, Green, Jade, Icy, Leafy, Maple, Moon, Mountain, Natural, Ocean, Opal, Orange, Purple, Proton, Rainbow, River, Rock, Season, Shadow, Shamrock, Shell, Shining Sun, Silver, Stone, Winters, Yellow
Ace, Alien, Bomber Man, Captain, Fever, Fry, Iceman, Maverick, Pagan, Sonic, Tower, Trainee, Zero
Admon, Aioros, Alphon, Arion, Areta, Arleta, Beacliff, Beel, Belem, Benweird, Bevis, Bocys, Cadol, Cangel, Canice, Cannas, Caris, Carpier, Cornox, Corothy, Corrol, Criff, Deaco, Drizzt, Edein, Ellick, Elves, Enrest, Faene, Feda, Fermat, Fimme, Gallen, Gazz, Gildas, Gorrenc, Gouf, Guyver, Harriam, Henricus, Hermine, Hinkmond, Hovid, Ilyn, Iokepa, Irnen, Jacar, Jackon, Jan Vacter, Jehoash Godwine, Johnivans, Jurjur, Kalaine, Katusha, Kenix, Komix, Lamune, Landes, Laputa, Lenno, Livina, Lufter, Malais, Manus, Marylois, Materno, Mexa, Monita, Moniza, Natalis, Novem, Nyx, Oona, Oyland, Parco, Phynix, Plal, Rayearth, Regs, Rickel, Rida, Rids, Rizal, Roginina, Silla, Tanna, Tannil, Tigo, Tinja, Tyatt, Vallenta, Vanus, Venna, Viren, Waycal, Weels, Wenise, Wingo, Wister, Yeah, Zainil, Zarina, Zodak, Zyle