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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Seeing Other People

One of the few bumper stickers I've ever been tempted to put on my car said the following: "I love my country but I think we should start seeing other people". Now to prevent the patriot police from coming to my door, I offer the following benign examples for why this bumper sticker resonates with this particular American blogger.

In a bagel store I patronize, I heard the grill man referred to as Charley, so I began using that name whenever I addressed him. One day, after over-hearing him speak Spanish, I asked him how he got the name Charley. I'll paraphrase his good natured response: "My real name is Carlos but the boss and customers liked Charley better so I answer to that".  Both names are two syllables, about the same number of letters, easy to pronounce. Why not the man's given name? I surely don't want anyone calling me "Patty" or "Pasquale" just because they "...like it better..." than Pat or Patrick.

Same sport, different ballpark: At a recent job I had an Indian colleague whose given name is Ashwin, pronounced exactly like the two English words "ash" and "win". What moniker do you suppose this professional ended up with to pacify those who found his name too exotic? Max! I'm not making this up. Neither Carlos nor Ashwin appeared to be put out about being re-named. So, what is Pasquale/Patty the blogger getting at here?

Back to the bumper sticker - seeing other people. Isn't trying to use someone's given name a respectful way to demonstrate you see them? What do you think?


  1. I can relate. There was a scientest at my last work place in New Jersey, a Fourtune 500 coporation. My company leased space at their facility near Clinton, NJ. Their HR department printed his first name on his ID badge as "Highly". He was from Somalia and his actual name was Haile. I'm sure some dolt heard it pronounced and, without checking with anybody, recorded it phonetically. When I come across dumb stuff like that I despair. I got to know Haile and he had a wonderful sense of humor about everything. He had witnessed some atrocities in his native land that were truly like nothing any of else born here will ever experience. I suppose in the larger scheme of things, the absurd butchering of his name is a rather minor anonyance. Yet I could never escape the feeling everytime I saw him walking down the common hallway of our building and waved to him that our country still has a way to go be a truly enlightened place. Or does the Statue of Liberty always keep a Joker up her sleeve?

  2. Steve; Comments like yours are the reason I started blogging last March. I so appreciate you reading and taking the time to give me your take. And what a (unfortunate) hoot - Highly (?) for Haile? Dolt, indeed.