Adventures in Nametagging 3

May 20, 2003

[Name tag]Adventures in Nametagging: I went out for lunch yesterday but didn’t think to put my nametag on. When it came time for our afternoon Starbucks run, I brought a nametag along but kept it in my wallet. After all, I would feel silly wearing it at work, or just walking with my friends, but I could slap it on so that the baristas wouldn’t have to ask my name.

Along the way, a panhandler asked for loose change. I stopped and dug around in my wallet, but didn’t find much change. But I had some dollar bills, so I pulled one out. He, meanwhile, had been avoiding all eye contact with me because of… shame? The American Caste System?

When I put the dollar bill in his hand, he looked at me with surprise. I smiled, and asked, “What’s your name?” “James,” he replied. “James, I’m Jon. Oh wait, let me put on my nametag.” HELLO my name is Jon goes on my shirt, and I reached out to shake his hand.

(Digression: One of the things Kay’s dad did as a missionary in Japan was prison ministry. And one of the things he insisted on doing was to shake hands with the prisoners. The guards didn’t like this — not so much because of security concerns, but because he was a sensei, a teacher, and prisoners were sub-human. …And that’s precisely why he insisted on doing it, to validate their humanity.)

James and I looked each other in the eye and shook hands, and smiled. Again, I felt that I was giving physical expression to the subversive, radical kingdom of God, defying the evil world order.

Did this have anything to do with the nametag? Maybe not. But today, I am wearing my nametag at work, putting up with my co-workers’ snide comments, remembering a man named James.

Nametag series:

  1. “Front porches”
  2. Adventures in Nametagging
  3. Adventures in Nametagging 2
  4. Adventures in Nametagging 3
  5. The Dollar: A Nametag Adventure

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

4 responses to Adventures in Nametagging 3

  1. Jon–that’s beautiful…seriously. i love the continuing adventures of the nametag, and that you continue to wear one. I can imagine the look in the man’s eyes, and the musings that bounced around in his mind for the rest of the day.
    ps. beautiful family. I just perused around your photo albums. Musician, eh?

  2. Keep the stories coming…I just may have to go get some nametags myself!

  3. regime change my friend…..regime change.
    Fight the power