The Friday before last, I had a chance to meet some of the other interns. There are two law students from Canada, two from NY, and one from Michigan. It's been great to have other American and Canadian students around to help navigate issues like living situations, food, tuk tuk prices, and how to handle trips to the provinces to meet with clients (more on that later). One of the interns also handed me a cell phone, so now I can stay connected with the other students.
While going through introductions with the staff, I noticed that a lot of people were having trouble pronouncing my name. I decided to shorten it to the more user-friendly "Ali", which seemed to go over well. I was discussing the name change with my office mate, Jacob, who's one of the students from Canada. He said he tried to do the same thing with his name during one of the group trips to the rural provences, which culminated in the following conversation and a rather unfortunate nickname:
Jacob: Hi, my name is Jake.
Client (mishearing): Chet?! Your name is Chet?!?!
Lawyers (dissolving in laughter): "Chet" means "death" in Vietnamese. Your name is Death!!
Jacob: No, I don't...I didn't say...
Everyone: YOUR NAME IS CHET!!
From that point on, the lawyers introduced Jacob to every client as "Death", which was always met with uncontrollable belly laughs. At least it's a way to break the ice with clients, although we both agreed that it might be a little uncomfortable to hear that Death is coming to visit you for the afternoon.