Erin's Journals

Monday, February 1, 2021

Just a quote… What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered? [Groundhog Day]

Yeah, it’s just a bit too true to be funny, but here we are. For a video version of today’s blog go to my Facebook page or YouTube.

Hey, welcome to February. I don’t really care what some rodent does tomorrow; unless it comes up wearing a mask, it’s really kind of out of tune with what’s going on in the world. And, honestly, why would you wake someone up who’s lucky enough to be sleeping through all of this, anyway? Let him get his beauty rest.

You might as well ask a raccoon for the lottery numbers. Makes about as much sense, whether you’re talking to Wiarton Willie, Punxsutawney Phil, Shubenacadie Sam…or whatever moniker they’re going by.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I love to greet someone by their name. If you were ever on a listener trip with me, you’ll know that I studied names and pictures on the flight to our destination so that I’d have every listener and their travel partner’s name memorized by the time we landed.

It didn’t work every time – like if a couple wasn’t together and I had committed Mark with the mustache: Mustache Mark…Mork and Mindy…Mark and Mandy!­ to memory. It was all about association and, much of the time, it worked.

Why go to that trouble? It comes back to some wisdom a sales manager once told me – something that I think originated with Dale Carnegie, the self-improvement and public speaking guru – that went like this: “There is no sweeter sound to one’s ear than the sound of his name.” Perhaps this is truer in sales than anywhere else, but it was a nugget of gold that I tucked away as just another way to connect with people.

I do this a lot in my real life – whatever that is these days – although I do question it sometimes. I call servers by their names if they introduce themselves. If a cashier at the grocery store wears a name tag and I have a question or want to thank her, I’ll use her name. Especially to thank her these days.

I was talking with my son-in-law and his wife a few weeks back and asked how the person on the receiving end of their name feels about it. Both seemed rather lukewarm; they said it depended on the tone with which the person was using it. I get that; as a couple who’ve both worked in the food hospitality business, I’m sure that there have been plenty of rude or implacable customers who have connected Phil or Brooke’s names to a complaint or some snark. And that’s unfortunate.

Tone can also be used to imply that the person on the receiving end is somehow lesser than the one who’s speaking it. That pains me even to write, but you know it’s true because there are a lot of jerks out there who don’t recognize that a human being is serving their coffee or reaching out the drive-thru window in sub-zero temperatures or reminding them to please keep their grocery bags on the little pull-out shelf and not in the area where the items that have been rung through are sitting (of which I was guilty yesterday – thank you, Anna, for pointing that out).

Anyway, Phil and Brooke’s opinions were valuable, but I’ll never stop saying someone’s name, in hopes that my efforts land softly, as they’re intended.

One time I did it, and caused some all-out laughter. I was in a liquor store and the woman serving me had on a name tag. As she rang my purchases through, I looked at her little plastic plaque and said, “Oh, BYID! Is that Welsh?”

“No,” she replied, “It means Bring Your ID.”

OMG we laughed. That was just classic me: best intentions, but putting my foot in it. We’re still laughing – ’cause these days, you have to, right?

Have a great day – thanks for coming by. And we’ll be with you here again on Thursday with another journal.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, February 1, 2021