Monday, April 19, 2010

A rose by any other thorn, or however that goes

My name is fairly uncommon. I used to have a problem with that and resented my parents for being clever at my expense. They said I'd grow out of it and would come to appreciate having an uncommon name some day. As it turns out, they were right (so there's two points for you, mom & dad). I now not only appreciate my name, I actually like it. It's unique and serves me well for branding purposes.
Since it is so uncommon, it's also unfamiliar and unexpected to many ears that hear it the first time I say it. "Bart? Did you say your name was Bart?", "Mark, was it?" "Huhwhatnow, Art?". But usually, once we get past that, it's easy to remember.

My current full-time employment situation requires me to work a job where I have to wear a name tag. Here's the thing about name tags: Companies that make their employees wear them would have you believe that their intent is to form an instant bond of familiarity between the employees and their customers, that this makes interactions between the two more personal and that's really what the company is all about.
This is, of course, utter bullshit.
The purpose of a name tag is so there can be accountability brought to bear when one of the lower-downs fails to please a customer:
"Excuse me, I think one of your employees just meowed at me!"
"I'm very, very sorry ma'am. Which one was it?"
"I don't know...he had glasses."
"He should have been wearing a company-issued name tag. Try to think and remember what it said..."
"Ah yes, Bob. That figures. Again, I'm very sorry. That is unacceptable."
"Are you going to go over there and do something about it?"
"No need. 25 meters away? I can easily take him out from here..."
That's why companies make their employees wear name tags.

So of course, being the good, compliant, completely non-essential team member that I am, I was wearing my little company-issued name tag yesterday when three different times...THREE!...I was addressed face-to-face by customers as "Carl". Which led me to two questions:
  1. Just how mush do you have to care about the individual with whom you're conversing to completely disregard a friggin' sign that the individual is required to pin to their clothing?
  2. Just how good does it feel to have your lack of worth and complete insignificance validated by complete strangers?

The answer to both is about the same.


Donna said...

I am one of those people that reads name tags, and when I speak to these poor souls who must wear these pre-school like accessories just to have their employers seem willing to make their employees accountable,I try to do so with some respect because they deserve it...usually. Have a great week Father Brooks.

PS They don't get more common than "Donna"

Wildhair said...

My 15 year old son utilizes name tags of employees for the 'bond' intent. Each time he addresses someone by their name they seem shocked and surprised. He's done this on his own accord since he was able to read.
It took me a long while to realize that men weren't looking at my boobs but my name badge when they come into my place of business.