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It’s good old whatsisname!

I was chatting with a member of our homeless community recently about someone he’d met at our weekly meal program. He said he was a nice guy, and he might sit with him at future meals as he’d enjoyed the conversation. I was curious about who it was, and our chat proceeded like this:


Me: Do you know what his name was?

Him: I think it was David.

Me: Okay, we’ve got a few of them. Young or old?

Him: Middle-aged.

Me: Skin colour?

Him: White.

Me: Skinny or solid or round?

Him: Solid.

Me: Beard or clean-shaven?

Him: Beard.

Me: Glasses or not?

Him: Glasses.

Me: Height?

Him: Average

Me: (Pause) Well, so far it sounds like me.

Him: No, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t you. Was it?

Me: No. I sat with someone else.

Him: Who did you sit with?

Me: David. Nice guy. Middle-aged, white skin, solid build, beard, wore glasses, average height.

Both of us: (Look at each other.)

Me: I only sat with him for dessert.

Him: I only sat with him for the main course.


Both of us: Same guy!


Turned out we both knew David and had eaten with him; we just didn’t know it until we knew it. Now – assuming David was happy to do so – the three of us could sit together next week and enjoy the conversation.


As a Salvation Army officer, you meet so many people that it’s nearly impossible to remember everyone’s name. I recall a very specific problem at one corps I was appointed to.


It was after our welcome meeting that a short-statured woman in her 70s with white hair came up to speak to me (notice how I carefully avoided saying ‘little old lady’) and she welcomed me to the corps and gave me her name. Then another short-statured woman in her 70s with white hair did the same. Then another. Then another. I thought, “Good Lord, they’re everywhere!”


I knew I wouldn’t have a chance at remembering all their names and one of my first acts in office was to ask our admin person to produce and promote name tags for members to wear each Sunday.


When I was a younger man, in my first workplace, there was a trend for a time to just call everyone, male or female, Jack: “Can you give me a hand with this, Jack?”; “Lunch break, Jack”; “What are you up to, Jack?”


Maybe we need to re-introduce the habit. It would certainly make it easier to order name badges for your corps: “Can I have 80 name badges, please? All saying Jack.”


– Major Mal Davies and his wife Major Tracey are the Corps Officers at Adelaide City Salvos



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