Friday, June 05, 2020

On twenty years of wearing a nametag everyday

On most days, it barely even occurs to me that I’m wearing a nametag. 

It’s such a fixture at this point. Something that’s been such a part of me for so long, it doesn’t even stand out anymore. 

Unless, of course, I find myself surrounded by a new group of people on a regular basis. 

Like starting a new job or joining a new club or moving to a new neighborhood. Then it’s back to square one, no pun intended. Answering basic questions, satisfying intense curiosities, assuring people of my relative sanity, and so on. 

Why do you wear a nametag all the time?
What about in the shower?
Do you handwrite each label?
What does your psychiatrist think about all this? 

It’s good times. Twenty years of this madness, and it still hasn’t gotten boring. 

Actually, the most fascinating part of the whole experiment is viewing it through the eyes of different people. The perspective is priceless. 

Years ago my new office mate, for example, came into work one morning and shared his user experience, so to speak, of telling my story to his roommates. Apparently his friends turned on a dime when they heard about it. They suddenly became quite angry, arguing what a stupid idea the nametag was, and how much it must suck to be working with a guy like that. 

One roommate even joked to my coworker, wow, this nametag guy must really take himself seriously. 

And my coworker was taken aback. He did not anticipate the magnitude of people’s negative reaction around something like a nametag. But it really does happen. More than you would think. Wearing a nametag triggers people’s resentment and even rage. It’s the strangest thing. 

And the arc of understanding typically goes one of a few ways. 

Some people stick with their initial negative reaction and give me zero benefit of the doubt forever. 

Some people dislike the nametag at first, then meet in person one day, and realize that it’s actually quite useful and fun. 

But my favorite personality is when somebody resents the idea for months or even years. Doing everything in their power to resist it. 

But they reluctantly come over to my side. 

Lesson learned, stick around and continue to be yourself and the correct people will find you. 

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Or hate you. How do people experience you?