Names are so important. It’s the first thing we ask someone and often our most significant identity marker. I remember growing up, when I said my name was Tobi - the response would get one of two comments. Either Nigerians would say: “Oluwatobiloba?” (It’s actually Oluwatobi) Do you know the meaning? Or often white women saying: “so cute to have a boy’s name.” Such different reactions informed by being socialised in different cultures.
Last week, I was waiting to be served to order food and the cashier asked the man in front of me his name. He responded Toby and she spelt his name on his smoothie cup with a "y". So when it came to my turn to order, I said my food request and then said it's Tobi with an "i". In my disbelief, the cashier said to me: “I’m not trying to be mean, but I’m just going to give you another name to make it easier for us.”