Why I hate alphabetical order

My last name is Vaz.  Which starts with a V.  Anyone else who has a last name which starts with a letter near the end of the alphabet will probably share my dislike of alphabetical order.  We’re always last.  And it isn’t fair.  I was last in enough things in school, like 3 blocks runs and being picked for group projects.  Did I really need the additional misfortune of being last for things simply because of my last name?  Apparently.

I’m taking a class right now at UBC, which is what reminded me of this today.  At the end of class, our assignments were handed back.  And our names were called out so we could go get our assignments and then leave.  And of course they were called out in alphabetical order.  What else is new?  And so I sat there.  Wanting to leave.  But unable to.  Because the people with C last names were still being called.  It was going to be a long while…

I’ve had to go through this in all my years of education, ever since I can remember.  When lining up for things, we would do it alphabetically.  Which meant you were always stuck in between the same two people in the line up.  And if you didn’t like those people, well, that was just too bad.  And sometimes that would be how groups or partners were assigned.  So if I didn’t like the kid who’s last name started with T, or the other kid who’s last name started with V, it didn’t matter.  We were stuck together.

When tests and assignments were handed back, I would always have to wait, much like I had to wait today.  And yes, people say that sometimes the teachers would mix it up and go in reverse alphabetical order instead.  But I feel like that rarely happened, if ever.  I cannot recall a time when it did.  Maybe my childhood memories are just biased and blocking out the few good experiences that may have occurred?

So I had to wait a little longer for certain things, so what?  Would I have really done anything important with those extra minutes that I spent patiently waiting?  Probably not.  But that’s not the point.  It’s the principle of the matter.  And sometimes it wasn’t just time that I missed out on.

In elementary school, we would have “hot lunch” every so often, maybe once a month?  This was basically when the school allowed us to order food, since there was no cafeteria or place to buy food and we would always bring it from home.  For hot lunch, we would have to bring in money and check off what we wanted days in advance.  They would order from places like Subway or Pizza Hut, or sometimes it was just hot dogs, catered from I don’t know where.  When the lunches arrived, guess what order they called them out in?

So I had to wait longer before I could eat.  But that’s not all.  You would also have the option of ordering a drink and a donut.  You could specify what drink you wanted, but the donuts were just a first come, first served thing.  And everyone wanted the long johns.  But there weren’t enough long johns to go around.  So when it was finally time for the girl with the V last name to get her food, there were only jelly donuts left.  And I didn’t like jelly donuts.  It wasn’t fair.

I suppose things could have been worse.  There were always kids with last names that started with W and Y.  But were pretty much in the same boat.  But at least since they were there, I was never dead last.  I guess at least that was something.  I think if I were a teacher and I was handing back assignments, I would just mix them all up and read them out in a completely random order.  That way no one is at a disadvantage.  Although then you wouldn’t know when to listen for your name.  At least alphabetically, you knew when it was going to be your turn.  Damn, I guess it is the most efficient way.  But still.  It wasn’t fair.

The things I missed out on.

12 thoughts on “Why I hate alphabetical order

  1. My last name starts with an R so I’m pretty far back, but usually I didn’t mind because a lot of times we used alphabetic order for speech and presentations. I hate talking in front of people so I wished my name was in the Z’s


    • Good point. But for some reason all I recall were times when it was bad to be last. And if you have to talk last, you have to go through that anxiety for longer. Maybe it’s best to be in the middle?


  2. I remember my first thought on meeting a guy whose last name was Zywicki–“Bummer, that had to be terrible in school.” My last name in those days started with D, a pleasant place to be. I was never the first person to do anything (everyone pays attention to the first couple people doing the shuttle run), but I didn’t have to wait too long, either.


    • Yes, I imagine that would be a bummer. A D last name sounds pretty good, as I was usually in classes with people who had a lot of C last names, so D wouldn’t be too too soon, but you’d get it over with. Lucky you. If only they went by first names instead…


  3. Pingback: I’m not cool | Random and unnewsworthy

  4. There is a simple solution to this: Just flip a coin first. If it lands “heads” then read off the names in alphabetical order. If “tails”, then read off the names in REVERSE alphabetical order. THAT would be fair.


  5. I hate abc order my last name which is Weaver I am usually always last! 😦 in PE we have drinks and we get water in abc order I am usually screaming DRINK FASTER IM DYING OF THRIST!!! I’m always stuck between two people I don’t like (boys) there I am the fourth last person in the whole school ! I’m always last to get my lunch waiting for 23 others kids everyday. Gets really annoying!


  6. I know right, that is so annoying. My last name starts with flippin Z, and I’m always dead last. All those people in my class with last names like Belschner, Cadja, Alkhatib, you name it… they’re always telling me that it’s not big deal, but people like us know how it feels 😦 what would I give to have the last name Asphalt or something?

    Seriously, I’ve been last every single class since kindergarten… I’m glad there are more people in the world who understand. I HATE ABC ORDER, IT’S SO FLIPPING UNFAIR.


  7. As a person with a last name starting with A, I can guarentee it has made my life worse. In the schools I’ve went to, they only use alphabetical order when there are no volunteers, and of course, the only time theres no volunteers is when its something NOONE wants to do. For example: who will present first, who will take out the garbage or recycling can, who will have to do tests in gym (and others) first, who will answer this question noone wants to answer, who will do the classroom chore noone likes. People also dont like being in ur group because they know youll be picked first. Of course, when its something people want, like snacks, skipping class to do something easy, etc, they pick by who raises their hands.


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