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Harris Blackwood: A name like any other
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Whether we want to admit it, we like hearing our names.

When someone calls you by name, it feels good. You have been advanced from any male or female to a specific person. That is, most of the time.

When some people call your name and you turn around, you realize the voice was of a person who is about to capitalize your time. They are the kind of people who if you ask them what time it is, they will verbally build you a clock. The kind of people who when you offer a greeting of “How are you doing?” they give you their entire lifetime medical diagnosis.

For the most part, hearing your name sounds good. Or does it?

It seems every fast-food place and retail store now requires their employees to wear a nametag.

I was in the checkout line of a supermarket the other day and a woman was wearing the nametag with Denise on it. She told me to have a good day.

“You too, Denise,” I replied.

She recoiled as if I had shot her. If you’re wearing a nametag with your name on it, somebody is eventually going to call you by name.

After she got over the shock, she relaxed and smiled and said “thank you.”

I have given people my business card and they call my office. They seem to be surprised when I answer the phone. For some reason, they don’t believe I am the person with the card. They proceed to describe me.

“I met you last week at the conference, are you a ... ” It is at this point they begin to describe me. This usually includes words I don’t like to hear, such as short, heavyset or little guy.

I am realistic. I don’t get up in the morning and see the reflection of a tall, thin man in the mirror. But you don’t have to verbally massage it into my ear.

A few years ago, real estate agents often had their picture on their card. I don’t know if this is still true. Women real estate agents tended to go to one of those places where they do your hair and makeup and pose you like a fashion model. Often, the picture is not an accurate depiction of their everyday look. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

If I decided to put a picture on my card, I think I would put it vertically on the back. I would stand on a stool next to somebody like Shaquille O’Neal, but not show the stool in the picture. Shaq and I would look like twins in height. If that didn’t work, I thought about standing next to a mailbox (also on a stool) and have top of the mailbox touch my thigh.

The trouble with that is people now mail few letters and may have no idea how tall a mailbox would be.

So let’s settle it this way. If you are in a store and have a nametag with Bob, Sue, Mary or Tim on it, we will assume that is your name. We may call you by that name.

If I give you my business card, you can assume it is accurate. I generally answer the phone by saying my name.

No need for further verification.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.

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