Name Tag Etiquette

Confused name tagQ: I recently attended an industry function where we were all made to wear name tags. Mine had a faulty clip and kept falling off. When I took it back to the registration desk they said they had no spares but still insisted I had to have one and wrote my name on a sticky label instead. Now my silk shirt has a horrible rectangular stain; even dry-cleaning hasn’t been able to remove it. What’s the best way to get out of wearing one next time?

Branded, VIC

A: Name tags are pesky things. As if walking into a room filled with three hundred people you don’t know isn’t daunting enough, you’re immediately presented with a far more practical dilemma: how to affix your tag one-handedly because your nervousness has prompted you to seize a too-early drink from a passing waiter.

Now, instead of entering with rehearsed confidence, you’re forced to shuffle in with bowed head, fondling your left breast while you press an already bespattered, wrinkled and too-sticky label to uncooperative material. Clips are worse because unless you have a neck like a giraffe (and a nearby table on which to set down your glass) it’s impossible to align the tag, and everyone has to spend the next four hours with heads tilted to an uncomfortable twenty-degrees just to decipher your name. Pins prick tender flesh, bringing tears, (as well as a sharp reminder of why you opted not to get that nipple ring) and tags dangling from lanyards are no good either; threatening to choke, they twist and tangle and are forever grazing bowls of congealed taramasalata.

No, there’s no easy way to deal with a name tag. But they are useful, not least because they provide no excuse for the very forgetful. ‘I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name,’ is never heard at a tagged function.

Name tags are the ultimate icebreaker. As graceless as your attempt was to fix the tag (and, later, the label) to your silk shirt, you can be sure everyone else in the room has just wrestled with the same problem, and many a wet-chested, taramasalata-smeared conversation has opened with some kind of tag disparagement.

But for subversives, there are plenty of ways to show disapproval and mess with a name tag. Be creative. Let loose. Imagination over convention, I say. Alternatively, you could pocket the damned thing and encourage the fading art of good old-fashioned introductions. You might be surprised how quickly it trends.

Jane Abbott