Grumpy Old Man

I HAVE come to appreciate and simple elegance and unfettered beauty of name tags.

Now I realise the terms “beauty” and “name tags” are not often used in the same sentence, but people who have moved around a lot will undoubtedly understand my sentiments.

Over the years I have moved street, moved town, and moved state on a fairly regular basis, which has all been about broadening horizons, expanding opportunities, and improving career prospects.

But with each move there are new names to remember, new faces to recall, and additional lives to recollect with all their connections to other people.

Yet while the number of names and faces to be brought to mind seems to constantly expand, the amount of ageing grey matter actively able to recall the information seems to be steadily shrinking.

So I am left stumbling through conversations with various people, all the while thinking, “Who the heck are you, and how come you know my name?”

While I suppose I have become adept at bluffing my way through conversations, and the Australian tradition of calling everybody “mate” is a great help, nothing replaces the art of remembering people and their details.

Of course there are people who are particularly adept at remembering who people are, where they are from, who they are married to, the names of their children and grandchildren, their cousin’s next door neighbour’s pets, and so forth, and I am generally filled with envy and hatred for those people.

For the rest of us there are name tags, but I think we should go a bit further than just a name.

How about if everyone wore a tag displaying their name, what they did, and how they were feeling that day – sort of like a more visible and accurate version of the mood rings that many of us bought back in the 1960s and 1970s (for the uninitiated, mood rings supposedly changed colour depending on how you were feeling at the time, but somehow mine usually said I was dead).

For example, a person could be walking along with the tag saying, “Bill, electrician, cranky because I was up all night arguing with my wife,” or “Melinda, lawyer, elated because I just won a big case”, or even “Pete, unemployed, spoiling for a fight”.

They could even be changed throughout the day from “Andy, accountant, eternal optimist”, to “Andy, accountant, optimist turning into a pessimist” as situations changed throughout the day.

With those sort of tags we would be able to remember people, what they did, and also know how to respond to them.

Now wouldn’t that make life easier?


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