An East Coast new-car dealer has a policy whereby all employees (including the dealer and managers) are fined a nominal sum or must perform extra duty for neglecting to wear their nametags on duty.

IF I COULD, I'D REQUIRE EVERY PERSON TO WEAR a name tag. This simple labeling process would relieve tension and frustration from our interaction with our business associates, customers and casual friends.

The armed forces do this. So do many restaurants, hotels and other consumer service organizations.

It would eliminate greetings — in the event of memory loss — such as, “Hi babe,” “Hi ya Kid” and “Hi there” and replace them with a more direct and intimate “Hi Joe.”

All this improved communication would result from the person's name being out front for all to see. It would also free up of our mental databases of memorized names matched with faces. We could therefore engage in more meaningful pursuits.

Snapping your fingers or whistling to get a waiter's attention would be replaced with a warm and friendly, “Say, Clarence, would you bring some water?”

Teachers would not have to memorize children's names at the start of each school year. Supervisors of large groups of employees would be better able to communicate during personal encounters with employees.

An event like this year's NADA Convention in Las Vegas is a prime example of the value of my name tag proposal. With the thousands of attendees, imagine the advantages of the required NADA badges to the exhibitors, factory people, dealer personnel, and cocktail party hosts.

The tense moments at the cocktail receptions and other social gatherings were eased when you didn't have to grope around for names as you introduced people.

Currently, when I escort friends to a gathering, which for them, may be new and strange, I prepare them in the following manner. If I don't immediately introduce the people we meet by name, it means I don't remember their names and my guest should become preoccupied a few feet away.

Another popular option might be to silently run through the alphabet searching for a letter which may be clue to the person's name.

Occasionally, you may be confronted by some inconsiderate fool who grabs your hand and proceeds to pump it while saying, “Hi ya Nat, haven't seen you for quite a while. Bet you don't remember me.”

The pumping hand brings cold sweat to your skin and your stomach to your throat as you search the recesses of your mind to label this guy.

Your mind races through the alphabet, hoping the first letter of the name will be promptly available. No luck! You look intently into the face hoping for some reminder of what name matches.

“I knew you wouldn't remember me,” he says, as though he is attempting to repay me for some terrible thing I had done to him, or trying to make it clear for all posterity that I simply do not remember his damn name!

“Since you became rich and famous you forget your old friends,” he continues, as he suddenly drops my numbing hand and confronts me with a look which is either whimsical or defiant.

By this time I'm ready to shout, “No, I don't remember your stupid name.”

Well, all this could be cured with a name tag affixed to a breast pocket.

Many quality service and sales organizations require their representatives to wear a name tag for their contacts with customers.

Imagine how convenient it would be for your customers to identify their contacts by name rather than describing them as, say, “the bald guy with the deep voice.”

An East Coast new-car dealer has a policy whereby all employees (including the dealer and managers) are fined a nominal sum or must perform extra duty for neglecting to wear their name tags on duty.

It establishes a warm and friendly work environment, and customers like it.


Nat Shulman was owner of Best Chevrolet in Hingham, MA for many years.