Societies tendency to force others to endure the indignity of an unwarranted nickname

fights4This post doesn’t necessarily follow in my traditional footsteps of airing my dirty laundry but does relate to relationships either personal or interpersonal.

Nicknames.

Have you met that person who extends their hand, smiles, and says “Hi, My name is Robert, but you can call me Bubba.”? (Just work with me people.) Now, I want you to compare this meeting to when you called someone by a nickname they haven‘t authorized. They look at you like they are about to rip your face off with a barbed wire and your thought process sounds like “Jesus, someone is having a case of the Mondays.” Well Motherf’er, you just gave me a case by disrespecting me by shortening my moniker because Samantha is a waste of precious 2 out of 3 syllables, and since there are at least 5 other Sam’s in the office, calling me Sam should be no big deal.  Guess what Bitch, It’s a huge deal.

My parents gave me a beautiful name. However, I became Sam as early as I can remember. It never bothered me on a conscious level, but something sinister was brewing subconsciously which drove me to my first mental break down at being referred to as Sam when I was 6 years old. As my mother relays the story, my first grade teacher referred to me as Sam from the get go. It was about the middle of the year, and I had asked Mrs. Fat Ass to refer to me as Samantha. This shocked the fat bitch who had nothing better to do but grade papers of the most intellectually inferior and eat ho-ho’s all fucking day long, and she called my mother to report my insubordination to her in class. To my mother’s credit, she basically gave Mrs. FA a screw you for calling her for something so trivial, and if I wanted to be referred to as Samantha, than that’s what she would call me. (Unfortunately, my mother missed her own memo that day. And it’s been almost 30 years. She still hasn’t found that post-it in her cranium which must have gotten filed away with all my crayon pictures.)

Fast forward 15-20 years, here I am, a professional working in a world of Jim’s, Bob’s, Kathy’s, Dave’s, Tim’s, and Liz’s. And since being referred to as Liz (hurl) was no big deal for her, Sam became my initiation into the asshole club. And I didn’t put up too much of a fuss until I hit 26. That’s when I realized I was an adult. I was an adult who was putting up with other people’s disrespect of me and letting them refer to me as however they wanted to, not how I wanted them to. So I put a professional stop to the Sam train. I notified my superiors a change of name was in order. And they responded. Professionally, from then on, Sam was never referred to as me in my presence.

My family is another story entirely. When I was 30, I sat my parents down to inform then Sam was no longer appropriate when they were referring to me. I might as well have put firecracker’s up their asses and lit them by blow torch by the way they looked at me. My father’s response was “I have always called you Sam and I will continue to call you Sam because you are MY daughter”, to which I replied “Well, thanks for cementing for me the notion I will never be anything more than a child in your eyes. And hey, regarding your level of respect for me today, you better hope your other daughter has more than the level I’m gonna show when you’re shitting your pants.” And even though I could tell this hit home a little, it wasn’t enough to kill Sam from my existence.

Come this past Labor Day.  I decided to spend the day with my parents and extended family. It was this day that inspired this post. Sam was every-fucking-where. To the point where I realized there were too many of them for me to take down in one room and set them straight. So I just dealt with it. Which made me start to wonder why do we feel compelled to shorten each other’s names? Is it a term of endearment? Is it because we’re lazy? Is it habit?  No one in my family has respected my wishes by referring to me as Samantha. But then again, I’m just as guilty.

My sister’s name is Victoria. I have called her Victoria my entire life except for the occasional Vicky when we were children. But even as kids, I referred to her by her full name. When we were in our early 20’s, I was still referring to my sister as Victoria until the day came and she said “You know, every one calls me Vicky. Why can’t you call me Vicky? I like Vicky and that’s how I prefer to be referred to.” I was shocked. Because I can’t wrap my head around referring to people by their nicknames. But I respected her wishes. I have called her Vicky ever since and can’t remember the last time Victoria has ever escaped my lips in her presence. Here’s another one:

Around the time I was fighting the corporate battle of having my name changed to Samantha professionally, I was in fact working side by side with another woman who preferred the name Sam. But I hated the name so much I couldn’t bring myself to refer to her as Sam so I pissed her off many times by calling her Samantha.  To Sam’s credit, she’s a sly one. After being so fed up with my referring to her by our full name, she started referring to me as Sam, which pissed me off. We truced that afternoon because I finally got it. I was treating her the way other’s treated me by shortening my name. She was Sam. And just because to me it sounds like a lazy man’s excuse to disrespect someone, to her Samantha was the name her parents only used when she was in irreversible deep shit.

Lesson #124: This is fantastic advise to take with you, especially in the world of business. When meeting someone for the first time, listen to how they introduce themselves. If someone prefers their nickname, they will tell you so enthusiastically the first time you meet them, it feels like you’re faced with an exhaust unit on a jet, just about to take off that it blows the skin right off your body. “HI!!!!!! MY NAME IS ROBERT JONES BUT YOU CAN CALL ME BOB!!! YEAH…I PREFER BOB EVERYONE CALLS ME BOB DON’T REFER TO ME AS ROBERT BECAUSE EVERYONE CALLS ME BOB. ROB’S OK TOO, BUT CALL ME BOB.” (You think I’m over exaggerating, yeah, maybe a little, however, people with nicknames tend to come somewhat close to this exchange.) People who do not use nicknames WILL NOT tell you it’s ok to shorten their names. So don’t do it. Still not sure how to refer to them? Read their name plates, their name tags, their business cards, how their name comes up in the company directory.

Regarding family, even children I refer to by their full names unless they give me the go ahead to call them by a nickname. I do this because it is disrespectful to anyone to refer to them  however you want. And if, once these children grow up, they ask you to stop referring to them as honey bunny boo bear, do it. They’re grown ass adults. And people have been killed for a lot less. I’m telling you, the steam that builds after years of enduring the indignity of an unwarranted nickname is enough to garner a psychological defense. And if I was on that jury, I would totally buy it.

(I apologize for all the f words. But nothing comes closer to portraying my feelings regarding this touchy subject then fuck. And anyway, if you’re offended by the f word, why the hell are you reading this blog? Believe me..I am most definately not your cup of tea.)

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