Saturday, March 19, 2011

Strangers wearing name tags...


"Sometimes you're the windshield; sometimes you're the bug.

- Mark Knopfler."




  I worked at Walmart once.  Well, worked is kind of pushing it a little. It is more like I spent three hours preparing to work for Walmart. Three hours watching "informational" training videos. I have to say, they spend an inordinate amount of time teaching people how to use box cutters. I learned many things.  For instance, NEVER ever carry one around by its blade-or never put one in your pocket with the blade extended. Useful information if you should ever have the need to use a box cutter.  Fortunately, I have never found myself in that position.  But If I ever should-I will be prepared.  Thanks Walmart!

  It was a rough time financially for us. Omar was working forty miles away, we had a new baby Oscar and were first time home owners. In other words we were flat broke. I had to get a job. So it was Walmart or bust.  A jobs a job. You do what you have to. Right?   So I dove into the finer points of box cutter techniques with a positive attitude.   Until I was handed my "official" Walmart name tag. I'm sure most of you have seen them-a large rectangle..embossed with the Walmart logo (of course in red white and blue) and "Kathleen" boldly stamped across the front.  I have to be honest here- I am so not a fan of the name tag. Any name tag .I believe that they give people ideas..a sense of camaraderie that is not earned. I can't tell you how many people have thought it  o.k. to shorten my name to "Kathy".( I KNOW..What?   I am so not a "Kathy"!)    I think that if you need to know my name-ask me...maybe I'll tell you. (although...I have been known to give different names from time to time-depending on my mood.  There was a muffin store I once worked in where many of the customers thought my name was "Sharon").  But I digress...So, I was handed my official name tag-and as I was about to pin it on to my official blue Walmart vest...I noticed that there was a ribbon hanging off of it..and on the ribbon in bold print were the words "LEARNING TO SERVE". gasp!  I remember thinking "   Is this what I have been reduced to??   A label that people would shorten at will and a ribbon implying that I didn't know what I was doing?    Me!?  ( I mean- Hey-I passed my "box cutter"quizzes with flying colors!)     It's Walmart for goodness sake!  sigh... I didn't have a choice. If I wanted to be paid-I had to wear it. We needed the money-I had no choice.

  Oh-but luck was on my side!  That very same day, Omar was transferred to a restaurant four miles from our house-and not only that-his monthly bonus would now exceed what I would have made at Walmart in three months alone!  The relief was palpable. We would be financially stable...AND I didn't have to wear the name tag!! Oh happy day!

  Since that unfortunate Walmart episode-my dislike for name tags has turned to loathing. If only it were the same way for my kids. They love them-especially Oscar. My boy has never met a name tag he hasn't been compelled to read-out loud. Most people are o.k. with this. Oscar is charming and friendly..and so darn enthusiastic-that, most name tag wearing people take it with a grain of salt. They smile, they say "hi"..and that's the end of it. It has worked out fine-until we met the infamous "Jim P."

    We were at the market, standing in line at the deli counter. It was a busy Saturday, and I was only there (with the herd) out of dire necessity. The line for the deli was long-and it appeared as if it were short staffed.  Only two clerks for about thirty people. One of them was Jim P.  We know that-(in fact EVERYONE knew that) because besides it being written on his name tag- Oscar made a point of announcing it.  "Hey-Look! Theres Jim P.!" (as if he were a long lost friend) "Hi Jim P.!!" ...Jim P. ignored him...so he said it louder.."Hey Jim P.-Hi!"    Now, I try to think the best of people-especially when they aren't being very nice.  They could be sick, or having family problems.... People have bad days-I get that.  And, because you never really know whats going on- I try not to assume. Normally, I would have intervened..distracted Oscar, explained that Jim P. was busy and did not have time to say hello. But Jim P. made a big mistake.  You see, when Oscar said hello for the second time-Jim P. looked at the other customers and rolled his eyes-as if he were disgusted. That did not fly right with this mother. Not one bit. My kids are taught to respect people, to acknowledge them-and to respond when they are being acknowledged. In other words-they have been taught manners.  I understand that Oscars exuberance can be a little daunting. But, he's a kid-and it was obvious that all he wanted to do was say hello..*sigh*   I figured that it was time to school Jim P. in manners.  So, for the next ten minutes, Oscar insisted on trying to get Jim P.'s attention . "Hey Jim P.-I'm Oscar" or ""Hey Jim P. are you cutting turkey?" and "Look, Jim P. is washing his hands."   I think that Jim P. worked very hard and fast in that ten minutes-if only to get us out of there. As he was handing me my package I made a point of praising Oscar for his manners pointing out how nice it is to take the time acknowledge people. All the while, I was looking at Jim P.

  Since that day-I have explained to my kids my problem with name tags. That even though someone is wearing one-it is nice to wait until they give you their name. We have never run into that situation again.  Funny, we have also not run into Jim P. either.  I don't think he works there anymore. There is a part of me that hopes he's at Walmart.

18 comments:

KWombles said...

hee! I love it. :-) What a great piece to read on a Saturday morning!

Donna said...

Oscar is the greatest. So is his Mom especially when she wants to make a statement. Thanks for the fun story.

Big Daddy Autism said...

I absolutely loooove Oscar. I, however, despise Jim P.

Btw, can I call you Katie?

Angela said...

Tell Oscar I would tell him Hi any time. If you ever run into Jim P. again tell him your friend Angela says learn some manners or she will slap him upside the head like her grandma did when we didn't use our manners :) lol

Lizbeth said...

I think we ran into Jim P on our last plane flight. He still does not have manners. He refused to switch seats, eye rolled and huffed & puffed. Alex sat next to him. Jim P got a nonstop dissertation on all things mechanical... :)

kathleen said...

@kwombles-thanks..:)

@Donna-heehee..You KNOW I am all about making statements!!

@BigDaddy-you did read the part about how I'm an expert with box cutters..right?

@Angela-heehee..thanks. I LIKE your grandmother!!

@Lizbeth-That is so funny! Serves Jim P. right! Will he never learn?? :)

bbsmum said...

You may be interested to know that Jim P's identical twin sister works in a corner shop in England. She glared at BB every time he approached her to buy sweets. One day BB responded by invading her space and shouting "eeeee" at her as loud as he could.
Nowadays she still glares. But she now also looks just a little bit scared :)

Stephanie said...

lol I really do think Willy and Oscar would get along wonderfully!

On a side note, I kind of like name tags. Especially when they're being worn by people who I'm supposed to know but don't. Names get lost in the busyness of my brain unless I see it, and sometimes I have to see it multiple times or in the right context.

There was this lady who came to visit me on a bi-monthly basis for over a year. For the first six months or so, I would smile and invite her in and talk to her. I knew her, I was comfortable with her, but I had no idea what her name was. Then, she handed me a card on my birthday (yes, I didn't know her name, but she knew my birthday) and--lo and behold!--her name was written in the card and I never forgot it again!

I might not recognize her face next time I see her, but I remember her name. *sigh*

Diane said...

That gave me a laugh. Thanks :)

Diane said...

That gave me a laugh. Thanks :)

kathleen said...

@bbsmum-I do believe that I have just become your boys BIGGEST fan! I love that he does that..heehee..:)

@Stephanie-that is so funny..what an awful position to be in..it isn't as though you can just come out and ask! Thank goodness for the card! Face recognition is such an interesting topic to me..My boys don't seem to have an issue with it-It is quite the opposite-they notice/remember everything about faces-but my youngest girl does not..I'm looking for ideas to help her with it as it is such a cause of anxiety in her...

@Diane-thanks..twice! :)

Looking for Blue Sky said...

A part of me is a little sad that you are trying to change the kid's behaviour around name tags as I can think of a lot of people who would benefit from meeting Oscar! And as someone who cannot remember names for more than 5 minutes I quite like name tags, once everyone is wearing them...then they become a leveller. We often use them for parents and kids at the Rainbow Junior Arch Club, especially when we have a lot of newbies x

Anonymous said...

Great post - I now know what to get you for your birthday! :)
Love, Ei

Stephanie said...

Well, if I ever figure out a way to keep names and faces straight I'll pass it along. Don't hold your breath though...in my thirties and still clueless as ever!
:/

Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

Oscar's my new hero! Well, maybe he's your loyal sidekick. Hee...:

Love the herd!!!

kathleen said...

@ bluesky :) Only name tags on clerks. Everyone wearing one is fine..although I have been known to write a different name..sometimes I would like to be a "Glenda" or a "Mave"..and it is my chance to try it on! :)

@anonymous Eileen-get me one and I'll start singing commercials to you again.

@Stephanie-thanks. I keep thinking of your story..how absolutely anxiety producing that must have been...sitting there chatting time after time,,,What is the protocol for asking someone their name-when they think you know it. I know that lots of people must run into this kind of situation from time to time...

@ life in the hous..hee. thanks ((()))

Looking for Blue Sky said...

And talking of tags, but not the name kind, there's one over for you at mine x

jazzygal said...

I am still laughing at the L plate for new Walmart staff members! That is incredible..they may as well just stamp it on your forehead!

As for Jim P, how rude. His loss though, he missed out on having a lovely chat with Oscar. It may even have made his day. I mean, I'm sure he gets enough mean customers ;-)

xx Jazzy