“What’s in a name? That which we call a “rose” by any other name would smell as sweet.” Ain’t that beautiful? of course, I did not compose those words. Shakespeare did. But, there is a point here that we shouldn’t miss. Names matter!
Think of the online everything-store called “Amazon.” The Amazon is as we all know the main arterial river system that runs through much of South America. How, then, does “Amazon” also describe in any way what a company is? It doesn’t. And it doesn’t make any difference to us because when we use “Amazon” in referring to buying something, we know we are talking about a virtual store. and not a river.
I think names are important. The Jews to this day do not speak the personal name of the deity out loud –ever. Your own name is personal to you, although others may have the same name. We give a certain kind of respect to proper names and sir names. We also use nicknames and short forms for people we are familiar with. We work all this out so that we can have civil conversations. And, we all know the ugly use of names by which we demean someone or curse them.
I make an effort to remember people’s names. When I see them again I’d like to be able to call them by name. I think it shows respect when I think enough of them to remember their names and call them by name.
Here are three names that are kind of generalized names for people like me. These three names I do not like to be called are: “some old guy,” “pop”; and “old-timer.”
I remember the first time I was called “sir.” I was twenty-seven years old and the store clerk who called me that was probably a mere ten years younger than I. My reaction was, “OMG, do I look that old?
Ten years ago, I was described as “some random old guy” casually in conversation as in ” I saw you there before I knew who you were and told my friend that there’s some random old guy ahead of us.” Yes, “old guy” was not bad enough, he had to add “random,” as in “run-of-the-mill.”
A few years ago, on a visit to see my sister and brother-in-law in Las Vegas, of all places, a worker washing windows outside of our motel greeted me with a smile and a “Hi, pop!” No one had ever called me “pop” before. I didn’t like it.
This morning a middle-aged guy, passed me on a bicycle and greeted me with “Excuse me, old-timer.”
That did it! “Old-timer!” I wanted to respond with something like “And also with you! You jerk!” But, he was gone.
I know I’m supposed to be forgiving and charitable to all. But…even to these guys? They don’t know my name.
There is only One who does.