Photo courtesy Flickr
This is straight fossil-froth, and I’m not going to apologize for it. I have a given name and a family name. Generations of my elders worked hard to ensure that giving my family name did not make anyone cringe.
A national retail chain has decided that only my given name need appear on the little pad where I sign for a plastic transaction. This is where I draw the line. I know the store will have no trouble identifying me from its collection of numbers, but eventually I’ll have trouble identifying me if I let the slight pass, so I'll continue to sign my full name.
It wasn’t long ago that ordinary people had no names: a baptismal name in the West, perhaps, and a tag that identified occupation, like smith, or a father's baptismal name. In Japan back in the day, an ordinary person was simply referred to by occupation.
I had the privilege of studying art with a man who reminded us that “who you are and what you do are not the same thing”. When challenges are fiercest, a decent name is most valuable.