Sunday, August 05, 2007

Names, Nick

I will punch you if you call me that one more timeOne of the many joys of working with the public is that I get to wear a name tag. My staff ID picture is even pretty good. It doubles as my security pass too. A multi-purpose tool.

Only one part makes me adjust my collar, and is a huge pet peeve of mine.

My name tag clearly reads "MATTHEW".

That's fine, right? However, the cultural custom of our society dictates that we must instantly make a nick name for any name.

Christine becomes Chrissy.
Bradley becomes Brad.
Elizabeth becomes Beth or Liz.
Margery becomes Marge, or Margie, or Gigi

And so follows, Matthew becomes Matt.

A simple phone reference to illustrate this point:

WDL "Good Morning, XXXX Library, Reference desk. Matthew speaking. How may I help you?"
Customer:"Hiya Matt. I'm looking for the number to the local dump."
WDL: "The number you are looking for is 555-555-5555. Does this completely answer your question?"
Customer "Yes Matt. Thanks!"

More than anything this amuses me. If someone calls me Matt, I know they don't know me at all. If I've taken the trouble to introduce myself, I additionally know they don't care a lick about what I just said. No one calls me Matt, spare a few colleagues from High School. After "amuse" wears off, annoyed sets in. That is usually followed by complete and total frustration. If I wanted to be called Matt, wouldn't it read as much on my white plastic security -cum- ID badge?

I say yes, and I am unanimous.

Then there are the people who just can't be bothered to call me Matthew at all.

This second group of people only half remember my name and call me Michael.

Once they feel warmed up to me, they may even call me Mike. Which is very kind on their part, and I'm sure they feel that way.

I never take the time to correct the public. If they can't read my tag, I'm just glad they made it as far as the library. It's the right place to start when you want to learn how to read.

Co-workers are another thing. I will correct a co-worker who calls me Matt. Business Etiquette, and Library Etiquette for that matter, dictate that the person should be called by the name they initially introduce themselves by. That's not so hard is it?

Unless they like to be called Jiggles, Hoppy, or Dingles. These names are best reserved for 1930's British School chums whom you vacation with during summer holidays.

Moral of this blog: Say my name, say my name.

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