The Dollar: A Nametag Adventure

August 13, 2003



one-dollar.jpgWent on an emergency shopping run the other evening to the strip mall on the corner. I parked the car and put on my nametag. Hello, My Name Is Jon. I haven’t noticed people treating me differently because of the nametag, but in its own odd way, it makes me bolder about talking to strangers — maybe because I’m already sticking out as an oddball by wearing a nametag.

As I got out of the car, I saw a teenage kid asking shoppers for money. Everyone either ignored him or declined. He approached me.

“Hey, can I ask you for a dollar?”

My initial response was to ask a question: “Why do you need a dollar?” He answered, “To catch a bus.”

Looking in my wallet, I saw that I had a 10 and a 20, but no 1’s. So I said, “Look, I need to go shopping, and I’ll get some change.” “OK,” he replies, “I’ll wait here.”

Then the kicker: I asked, “What’s your name?”
“James.”
I reached out my hand. “My name’s Jon.”
We shake hands. I think it’s important. It makes us equals.

I went into the store and got what I needed. Normally I use my debit card and live a fairly cashless life. But this time, I used cash in order to get dollar bills back. All the while I’m wondering, what’s with this kid? Is he just scamming me? Maybe. But whether he is or not, I want him to learn a lesson. And it’s only costing me a dollar to trust him.

Stepping outside, I find him. “Hey, James.” I stuff a dollar bill into his palm. “Thanks,” he says. But I’m not done.

“James, I want you to do me a favor.” He looks at me, wondering where I’m going. “I’m doing something nice for you. Next time, I want you to do something nice for someone else. I think that’s the way God designed it.”

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.

3 responses to The Dollar: A Nametag Adventure

  1. Nice….the nametag stuff is great! I read somewhere that there was another contingent at this years burning man doing S.E.

  2. Thanks for the tip, hanson — I went out googling and found the article of their second trip to Burning Man. The article is here and there, but I was most pleasantly surprised to find it included on the Burning Man site itself:
    http://www.burningman.com/blackrockcity_yearround/written_reflections/pastor_on_the_playa.html
    The article of the first trip back in 2000 is on Next-Wave: http://www.next-wave.org/oct00/burningman.htm

  3. Nice. The fact that you even ‘think’ to tell the kid…that is pretty strong. Pay it forward, Jon. Pay it forward. 🙂