I’ve gotten into the bad habit of not introducing myself when I ask people questions. I just say I’m with the newspaper and that seems to satisfy nine times out of 10. But letting the press badge speak for itself doesn’t necessarily mean it speaks for me. It more or less just says, I want some information from you. And it’s terrible because as a human being, I’d prefer to chat over coffee and listen to who you are rather than manipulate what you know. I’d rather hear you tell your story than me regurgitate it in my own fit for print version that was spin-cycled through my creativity and cleverness. It’s just not the same and certainly not better than the original. Nothing is ever better the original.
It occurred to me that I should start saying my name when I shake hands with people when I unknowingly shook hands with the national correspondent for ABC News Radio. At the time, I wasn’t concerned about who he was. All I cared about was what he knew, and more importantly, how I was going to get it through polite conversation and disarming questions. When the interview was over ten minutes later, he asked me my name. I learned a valuable thing right then in that question: it was the most polite and disarming inquiry of all. And no matter who you ask it to, everyone always tells you the truth.
So why wasn’t I introducing myself? Why had I settled for a press badge shield?
I realize now that this isn’t the first time I’ve done this sort of thing. I did this with basketball too. Oh, you play basketball? No, my name’s Kristen Dalton.
I’m not sure what this means, but I do know that it’s a habit of mine. Maybe it’s an unconscious effort to spare myself from the things I do, especially when I know that these are just things that I do. They’re temporary, not made to last, and I do not have any expectation for them to do so. I get restless when they begin to feel more permanent, as if I shouldn’t be doing this.
This is why it’s a bad habit to not say my name when I meet people for the first time. It gives them the impression that I’m only about what I do and leaves little opportunity for anyone to get to know who I am. That’s why names are important. It gives people something to remember you by.