Monday, January 18, 2010

Name Dropping

The mental connection that led to this topic began with one of the entries in an interesting online article I bookmarked last month: 20 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You. Along with all the bad things you might have suspected, including stories of food dropped on the floor and rinsed under water before being put back on your plate, was this one:

"I get this call all the time: 'Is the chef there? This is so-and-so. I’m a good friend of his.' If you’re his good friend, you’d have his cell."

This is an example of the scummy art of name-dropping ... tossing the names of famous (or infamous, or - at least - notable) people with whom one claims to be friends, usually for the purpose of gaining some advantage (in the example above, a table at a crowded restaurant) or impressing the listener. It's also an example of how it doesn't always work.

I've always figured that if you need to invoke someone else's name to accomplish something or impress me, you are beyond help. I don't care who you know, I care about what you are.

Of course, my distaste with name-droppers may come from the fact that I don't know anyone whose name can be dropped for significant advantage. I tried telling people at the phone company that I was a friend of Mike's, and they said, "Mike who?" Then I clarified, and they said, "Mike who?" even louder. I thought about dropping Amanda's name while buying grandchildren supplies at Buy Buy Baby, but since the store is in Northern Virginia rather than Brisbane, I figured it probably wouldn't help. I also thought about dropping Jay's name, but then, I may want to run for office someday, and I already have all the skeletons in my closet that I need.

I wonder if I'm socially hampered by the fact that all my friends are Real People. Nah. Real People are fun. They're not pretentious. They're comfortable being who they are, and don't need to define themselves by a real or imagined connection to who they know. Of course, there are those people who don't need to invoke someone else's name because they're so impressed with themselves that they think the earth shakes when they walk by. You've probably had the experience of hearing someone (often at an airline counter, or trying to get past a bouncer at a fancy club) shout, "Do you know who I am?!?!?"

Sorry, if you don't know, I can't help you. Perhaps in this case, you need to invoke the name of someone else. Preferably someone with better manners.

Drop your own name. If you've taken care of it, it'll get you as far as you need to go.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Jay said...

When I was in college my friend and I tried to get into a local club by name dropping. It didn't work. Then we came up with a foolproof plan. We worked at a pizza joint, so we just took a couple of pizzas with us and they let us in for free. Name dropping doesn't work as well as food.

Melissa B. said...

And if you're ever interested in going places with the Fairfax County Public Schools, just drop Mrs. Scribe's name. No problem.

Mike said...

I would have sworn I left a comment here. But then I remembered I followed your 20 secrets link and probably never got back here after link hopping for 20 minutes.