What’s in a name . . . tag?


It seems there is a label for every phobia under the sun. Fortunately, I’m unaware of personally possessing any real phobias . . . certainly not aerophobia since I love to fly. Nor do I suffer from claustrophobia for I often snooze during MRI studies (maybe that’s because kitties like to curl up in dark, confined places to nap.)  I did suffer a temporary case of scolionophobia as a child (fear of school) but outgrew that. I like dogs and cats so I don’t suffer from cynophobia or ailurophobia. I do suffer, however, from something that I can’t find a label for—the fear of forgetting names.

The holidays are coming up fast and many of us will either be hosting or invited to social gathering. If you host an event and I am invited, due to my unnamed phobia, I implore you to provide nametags. I realize this may seem hokey to some who hold glamorous functions where guests dress in their very finest formal wear and fear it would be unattractive, juvenile or gauche to offer a nametag. (Understandably, some individuals don’t like to wear nametags —especially if they are those sticky label things that don’t adhere to all types of fabric and quickly escape to the floor.)

I have appreciated being included in some special events where no expense was spared. But, to be honest, I would have enjoyed myself more were nametags provided since very few of us knew each other. I met many wonderful people but pretty soon my small mind couldn’t retain the names of even a few I met throughout the evening. I was embarrassed to keep asking their names and I went home frustrated. I couldn’t help thinking: They spared no expense on this wonderful event—exquisite decorations, delicious catered food, enjoyable entertainment, and sometimes an open bar with a bartender. I only wish that, out of consideration for those of us with this unnamed phobia, they had spent a little extra on a nice plastic nametag for each guest.  They could have added a decorative bling that would go well with any ensemble.

And it isn’t just social functions . . .  I belong to a Sunday school class with a membership of over 100. Upon becoming a member a plastic nametag with the church logo is provided. For some reason, the wearing of these tags fell by the wayside. (I always wear mine because I want to “practice what I preach”.) Evidently I wasn’t the only one concerned about this because one day a class leader pitched a plea encouraging us to wear our nametags. Enthusiastically supporting him, I emailed the below note to our class members—many who typically come each Sunday and sit at the same table with the same people and then leave.

Dear Class Members,
I am embarrassed when I have to ask you or someone else your name. I see your kind faces and recognize you but since many of you and I have never or seldom have ever had a meaningful conversation, I don’t know your name. But I’d like to.

Comments about nametags:

Years ago, in another group, a woman commented, “Well, everyone already knows who I am.”

I answered, “Yes, but do you know who everyone else is? And what about visitors?”

At a social gathering I recently attended, a young businessman remarked, “If people just really tried, they could remember names—through word association—they’re just lazy.” I couldn’t help thinking Wait until he’s my age! I’m lucky to remember my own name. 

I had trouble with names even when I was young!!

Years ago I bought a book on improving your memory by Harry Lorayne (funny I can remember his name) but when I was ready to study his word-association techniques, I couldn’t remember where I put his book. I decided one morning it didn’t always work anyway—after a young door-to-door salesman kept calling me Mrs. Church. (I didn’t correct him for I knew I’d never see him again.)

I can relate to the following joke:

Two elderly ladies met on the street and hugged each other excitedly in recognition. They chatted for several minutes when one of them said, “I recognize you but for the life of me I can’t recall your name. Please don’t be offended, but would you tell me your name?”

The other lady stared at her, shocked. Thinking for a minute, she answered “How soon do you need to Know?”

Yes, more socials could help us become better acquainted—or even changing tables once in a while—but not if we don’t wear our name tags. We’ll just leave still not knowing who we sat with or talked to—unless it’s the same group.

The last few Sundays I’ve asked several members their names and fortunately they didn’t make me feel stupid. I asked some of you long-time members what someone else’s name is who’s been coming for long time—and you didn’t know. So, I’m not the only one . . .

I understand that for the fashionably-conscious, a nametag may distract from your ensemble or it may be difficult to affix. In all honesty, I may think you are gorgeous or handsome but what good does it do if I don’t know who you are?

I know it’s a hassle to look for our nametags which may or may not be there alphabetically on the rack stand provided (maybe we forgot & wore it home). I finally found something that works for me:

I keep my nametag on my dressing table at home, and put it on before I leave the house each Sunday morning. I go to the early service, so I wear it to church. There’s no rule against wearing the nametag to church That way I don’t have to remember to put it on for Sunday school. Wearing it to church also has its advantages. Visitors quite often think I am someone important since I wear a nametag. (Actually, I was once member of a CA church where all church members wore nametags; it was given to you when you joined. Ours was called “the friendliest church in the valley.”) . . .

If we just go to hear our teacher’s wonderful teaching and nothing else, then knowing the names of other class members isn’t important. But I think our class should be more than just gleaning information. We should be a family. If we care about our family members (and guests) wouldn’t it be nice if we all resumed wearing nametags and tried each Sunday to get to know another family member? . . .

May God bless those of you who faithfully wear nametags!!