Throughout our lives, our friends and acquaintances stick labels on us: nicknames.
Some we like, and some we don’t.
My own experience tells me that the cruellest, least wanted, nicknames are foisted upon us during our school days.
When I was an officer cadet at HMS Conway, a naval school in North Wales, I was called Dithers. I absolutely hated that! It was because I was in the habit of injecting nervous “Ums” and “Ers” into my speech. My shipmates were merciless in their teasing, even making out that I had a “King’s Speech” stutter. It was awful!
People who have known me more recently would be surprised. I am often told that I am a natural public speaker. I’ve had great feedback on the way that I spoke at the recent UK Southern African Culture Workshop in London. Click on the link to listen from minute 10:21, and let me know what you think.
I have had many nicknames during my working life. I’ll just tell you about three of them, as briefly as possible.
During my Army career, I was called Mad Mitch. My full name is Lance Greenfield Mitchell. Greenfield is my Natural father’s name. Mitchell is my Step-father’s name.
Just before I was recruited, a Colonel Mitchell, who commanded British troops in Aden, and was known to all as Mad Mitch because he was a little bit crazy, retired. Incidentally, he became a Member of the British Parliament. My colleagues stuck his label on to me, even though I am not crazy.
When I worked at Ingres in the early to mid nineties, I was Tigger. It was my own fault! But I loved this, and I am very pleased that a few people still hang this on me.
The way it happened that, while I was training some customers on day, I was simultaneously chatting online with my boss. She was warning me about a very grumpy, objectionable customer who would attend my course the following week. “He objects to everything that is said, and will complain about the course and the trainer,” she told me.
My response, without even thinking, was “Don’t worry, Sandra, I will be Tigger the Bouncing Tiger!”
Before I came out of the classroom, an email had gone out from my boss to the whole company, worldwide, saying that, “Lance will no longer be known as Lance. He is now Tigger the Bouncing Tiger.” What fun!
The other nickname that I had in the same job was The Ready Brek Kid. I didn’t know about this until many years later when I met up with an ex-colleague. To my surprise, she told me that trainers who felt exhausted by lunchtime would come and sit next to me. Apparently, they used to confide in each other that they could feel energy radiating off me as if I were on fire. The went back to their classrooms for the afternoon sessions with a new zest and enthusiasm. They never told me.
Now it is over to you. Tell us all about your nicknames. How did you acquire them? Did you love them or hate them. Maybe you have hidden them away for many years like I did with Dithers. I confessed that one to you today. It is time for you to confess.