I have been listening to commentaries on World Cup matches (just about audible above the vuvuzelas) and am impressed by the ability of the commentators to identify the different players from around the world and (attempts to) pronounce their names. They must spend a long time practicing and seem to work on the same basis that I use to pronounce Biblical names when reading in public. If you go at it with confidence and don’t stumble then people assume that you have got the pronunciation correct.
I have been trying to work out some of their methods and I reckon part of it is the ability to link the numbers on their backs to their names quickly, perhaps by learning the team numbers and names by repetition. It is true that the players’ names are on the back of their shirts, but sometimes it can’t be easy to read that quickly, especially some of the longer ones. Part of it may be knowing where the players are likely to be on the pitch, so they know whether it is more likely to be an attacker, midfielder or defender (not so easy because they keep running around). However they do it, it can’t be easy.
I wish I found it as easy to remember people’s names when I have met them. It would be helpful if they had their name and squad number on their shirts but that is not going to happen anytime soon. The problem is that after a while it becomes embarrassing to admit that you can’t remember someone’s name. A colleague at Bible College thought he had a good way around the problem when he had forgotten my name. He asked me, “How do you spell your name?” I answered: “N, I, C, K – got you, you’ve forgotten my name!”
I have wondered about having a ‘name amnesty’ at church – where we assume that nobody knows anyone else’s name and everyone wears a name badge. That way we can find out the names of those people whose names we have forgotten without embarrassment. It sounds like a good idea in practice, but perhaps is a little puerile.
At this point I could make a ‘spiritual’ point about God knowing us intimately and never forgetting who we are, even if we forget him sometimes, but you already know that. Don’t you?
The manager of a large office noticed a new guy one day and told him to come into his office. “What’s your name?” the manager asked.
“John,” the new guy replied.
The manager scowled, “Look, I don’t know what kind of a namby-pamby place you worked at before, but I don’t call anyone by their first name. It breeds familiarity and that leads to a breakdown in authority. I refer to my employees by their last name only – Smith, Jones, Baker – that’s all. I am to be referred to only as Mr. Robertson. Now that we got that straight, what is your last name?”
The new guy sighed and said, “My name is John Darling.”
“Okay, John, the next thing I want to tell you is…”