Opinion: Name tags

POSTED: 09/24/12 11:32 AM

Minister De Weever (public health, social affairs and labor) got kudos from the hospitality and trade association SHTA for his initiative to adorn civil servants in the departments he is responsible for with name tags. Soon, we figure, employees at the hospital will get the same directive, but only after the minister has taken over the supervisory council at the SMMC.

But seriously, the name tag-initiative is a good idea. It adds something to the interaction between civil servants and the people who pay their salaries – the citizens.

And participant in a congress or some similar dreadful event must have noticed it. Usually these name tags are so small that it is impossible to read a name without getting really up close with the man or woman who is wearing it.

That could potentially lead to embarrassing situation, whereby the name tag’s bearer might get the idea that a shortsighted citizen who is making an honest effort to read the tag, has dishonorable intentions.

To avoid such embarrassment, name tags need to be of a format that accommodates especially senior citizens. Because they are the ones with diminishing eye sight and they are in general also the ones who are too modest to ask a civil servant what the heck the text on her or his name tag is.

It is amazing that the unions have not come up against the name tag scheme, by the way. Maybe they haven’t thought about this, and maybe they don’t really care – that’s hard to say with unions these days. The argument against name tags should obviously be: if I have to wear it, why don’t we oblige our customers to wear one as well when they visit my office?

Hmm. Let’s think about this a bit.

There is a huge disconnect between people in our society. That’s not unique for St. Maarten; it’s a disease that is scorching the earth, so to speak. Would name tags offer a solution? They sure would make it easier to establish contacts with random strangers in supermarkets, bars and places of pleasure with a rather dubious reputation.

But it would also serve people who suffer from dementia or from Alzheimer’s disease and people who don’t know yet that they have this condition even though they always have trouble remembering the name of someone they met an hour ago.

The only word that has no place on a name tag is honorable. That’s a prefix dreamt up by politicians and in general it has nothing to do with who people really are. But a name tag for every citizen? Why not?


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