Have you ever gone to a class, of any kind, and been asked to wear a name tag? What was your reaction? Did you think it was silly because you were never going to see those people again, or you didn’t like being treated like a child. I hate to admit I’ve had those same thoughts. Now think about how good it makes you feel when you walk into a meeting, or restaurant, and someone calls you by name. It makes you feel good, like you are valuable and you have something to offer or gain by being there.
When I was teaching quilting classes I asked my students to wear nametags for the first two sessions. They balked. By the third session I didn’t need them because I’ve never had trouble remembering faces or learning names of someone I see regularly. The key word there is regularly. I go to my husband’s work functions and don’t remember who he introduced me to the year before. He remembers which picnic or sporting event he introduced me to them, but I don’t see those people regularly, so I don’t remember their names.
More than three years ago I joined a writing group in Rochester, New York. It was six months before someone called me by name. Granted we only meet once a month, but come on. I learned their names. All right, I’m a name nut and I know not everyone is.
I am now president of that group and during a recent meeting it was suggested we have name tags. Everyone agreed. I took it upon myself to make them. Here’s where human nature sets in. One member very respectfully suggested I should have printed the names on both sides of the tag that hung on a lanyard because often the blank side was showing. He even explained how to go about doing the reprinting. Thank you D. W. I had spelled one ladies name wrong and instead of coming to me and telling me, she scribbled the extra letter out like an angry child when one simple x through the extra letter would have done the trick. Another man with a short name told me there was too much wasted space on his tag and could I redo it so his name was larger. I showed him the tag with the person who had the longest name in the group and he understood I had used the same font size for everyone.
Now we come to that word; prosopagnosia. I had never heard it before last week, and I didn’t know the lay term for it is facial blindness. What’s that you ask? It the lack of ability to remember a person’s face, sometimes even in their own extended family if they don’t see them very often. It isn’t that common, but I now know two people that have the condition. They remember who is around them by memorizing clothing colors. They need someone they don’t see often to actually greet them, tell them their name and mention how they know each other. One of the people that have it is the secretary of the writing group. When we speak, we say our name first so she knows who said what to put in the minutes.
The other person is an author/ teacher that I have asked to speak at a conference the group is hosting in October. I’m looking forward to learning from her and I will be sure to greet her when she arrives and tell her my name.
Now that I have introduced you to prosopagnosia I hope the next time you are asked to wear a name tag you will remember that for some people they are a very valuable tool. And me, I’ll get on to reprinting 36 name tags without margins and with larger, maybe bold, lettering. Hopefully I can improve them and get them all right this time.
That writing group I mentioned is the Lilac City Rochester Writers. You can find us at LCRWriters.org on the internet. Some of our members have a bunch of published books out there, some of us just one and people like me are still in the process. We offer three critique sessions a year and have programs on the how of writing.