Hello, my name is… Engin?

Hello, my name is... Engin? Despite having been working at Woolworths for almost a month now, I still haven’t been given my own name. Unlike some shops where nametags are essentially made out of a bit of paper put inside a plastic case, Woolworths seem to have to specially engrave one in a top-secret time-consuming procedure.

So while we wait for my proper nametag to arrive, I have been told to use another male nametag from the drawer. Of course, I was to be given a male nametag because I am obviously not female. But the fact that I am obviously not Asian didn’t seem to put them off when they decided to make me Engin.

I had never heard the name before I worked at Woolworths, but inside Woolies it is a name I’ve heard a lot. Infact, on my first day on the tills (before I even had Engin as a name badge), I was asked, “Does Engin still work here?” At first I thought it sounded like it might be a Welsh name, but apparently the real Engin is Asian.

At first I found the whole thing quite funny, kind of poking fun at the whole need for sales assistants to wear name badges. But I have had to endure three or four weeks of the same old cracks. For instance: “Engin’s looking awfy peely-wally today.” Amusing the first time, boring the fifth time.

Of course, I also get loads of customers asking me how I say my name. I have to explain the whole situation, that my name is actually Duncan, I’m new here, I still haven’t got my nametag yet, this is somebody else’s nametag, but it’s pronounced /’É›n.ɡɪn/.

This explanation doesn’t please everyone. Yesterday I had a group of boys who looked like they might be troublemakers but turned out just to be playfully cheeky. “What’s your name?” Once I had given my explanation the boy replied, “Your name’s engine, isn’t it?” About an hour later they came back, shouting, “Alright, engine?” on their way past me.

I should just say that my name is pronounced like ‘Duncan’, but I just use a really avant-garde spelling.

There is one plus point to it all though. If I get the mystery shopper and I mess it up by failing to ask him twenty questions about what he hasn’t bought, Engin gets the blame.

Update: A clue to the origin of the name? meeshy meesh left a comment on Flickr:

Means “vast” in Turkish.


  1. I worked at Odeon for a year or so when I was 16 and for the first three months suffered a smililar problem – except there was no male name spare and I had to be Sara.

    When I pointed out that it would probably be better for me not to wear a name badge I just got a series of blank expressions from management as the concept of not following the rules by the letter wasn’t in their training manual.

    I was given the standard response “if there is a mystery shopper it will look bad if you don’t have a name badge”.

    Unfortunatly they didn’t like it when I suggested that “well at least you’ll get extra diversity points for employing people with gender identity problems instead”.

  2. I used to work at Woolworths… i’m sorry for your pain. Engin is not as asian name as far as i know, but that depends what part of Asia it came from, if that makes any sense. Anyway, nice little blog you going here 🙂

  3. I’m just starting in woolworths, and I’ve already been told I’m going to be called Chris. Gonna be annoying, considering I know the Chris who used to work there…. and he’s my sisters boyfriend…. and my sister works at… woolworths.

  4. My name is Engin and I certainly am not Asian with blue eyes and blonde hair. Western Turks are not Asian and this name is mostly used by Western Turks.

  5. Hey, I know what you mean, I work in woolworths (nearly 2 years) I got mine instantly. However when my m8s joined they did not recieve names, they both got “New Recruit” ones and they both waited 6 months till theres arrived. Now not the managers fault, but it is annoying. We only get one badge each (i have 2 lucky me) and some of the staff still need uniforms, I am still waiting on my own fleece, but I have claimed one from upstairs.