I have a really good friend John. Sooner or later it seems that all of John’s friends get a nickname. Eric is known as Elvis, Larry is known as Lars, and ever since my Vestas e-mail came out I will probably be known as Dainty. (Long story)
The point is that, what is a nickname for one person is the likely the given name of another. I met the real Lars today. Like Larry, Lars is an outstanding individual. Unlike Larry, Lars is such a common name in the factory that he too has picked up a nickname, Running Lars. Apparently he is a rabid runner and regularly covers 50km on a weekend. He will be following us back to the States in March, I am sure he will fit right in with the workers who live in boulder.
I really do not like nicknames. I am sure they are meant as endearments or at the least as a sign of belonging. However I have seen too many times nicknames being used as a covert way to ridicule an unsuspecting victim. Sometimes this is tagged on a person who is overtly friendly and irritating or a way to describe someone that the in-crowd despises.
When I was on a temporary duty assignment in Germany there was a guy that had to tag a nickname on just about everyone. He called this one guy Sprinkles. The guy hated the nickname but couldn’t criticize it on any specific grounds other than is sounded kind of effeminate. The guy was big and strong and the nick name didn’t seem to fit at all. But that didn’t assuage the power of his nickname; it stuck on him like glue. On the last day of the job he finally had enough and cornered the person who kept insisting on calling him Sprinkle. He calmly stated that “If you have a pile of crap, and cover it in whipped cream and candy sprinkles, its still a pile of crap” This ended in a rather heated fight that took four people to stop.
On the other hand, on the same job in Germany our boss received the nickname of “Fresh”. He liked it and encouraged others to use his nick name. We called him Fresh out of disgust because all of us were freezing our asses off in the mud and concrete and he would just drive up in a jeep, roll down the window and ask how the job was going. Then drive off, he was late for a meeting or something. Fresh, it is said with a sneer not a smile.
So ever since my experiences in Germany, I have tried my best to keep from giving nicknames, or receiving a nickname. I will only use them if I am certain that the person really likes it. I simply can’t think of one I would like. So I don’t want one. Not even Dainty, as appropriate as it seems for a six foot six inch, two hundred and thirty pound man.
Does anyone have a nickname they like?