Today, I was eating lunch at a fast food restaurant. This is one of the restaurants where they take your name when they take your order instead of assigning you a number. When your order is ready, they announce your name. The young lady waiting on me asked my name and I told her. She didn’t understand and asked me again. I repeated my name and spelled it for her to make sure she understood. She smiled as she replied, “OK! Cool!” I thought it was unusual for anyone to think that the name Art is cool but I thought she was just being nice. While I was waiting for my food, I prepared my drink and grabbed some napkins. I stayed near the counter because the store was crowded and I wanted to give it a chance to clear out before I sat down. Another lady behind the counter was gathering food for orders and I thought I recognized my order in her hand. At the time, I was the only person who was waiting near the counter for an order. She stepped up to the counter and announced "Ant!"
I don’t know if she couldn’t read the other girl’s handwriting or if the girl that took my order still didn’t understand me. But it did remind me of an earlier time in my life when I was working for a company where everyone wore uniforms. I was Quality Engineer for this company and I wore the same style uniform as everyone else in the factory. From the assembly line worker to the Plant Manager, everyone wore blue work pants and blue and while pinstriped shirts. The shirts had a patch with the employee’s name on it. The name patches were all written in cursive in a style where the lower case “r” looked like a lower case “n”. My next door neighbor noticed this and called me “Ant” whenever she would see me in uniform.
The uniforms did not include a patch with the name of the company on them. This was back in 1998 when there were still a few full-service gas stations around. I made the mistake of stopping at a station that had a couple of full-service pumps. I was pumping my own gas at the self-service pump and a lady at one of the full-service pumps starts honking her horn at me and waving me over. She thought I worked there and was getting angry. How dare I pump gas for someone at the self-service pump while she waited at the full-service pump?
I had to be careful about what kind of stores I stopped at on the way home. Automotive part stores were the worst. I no longer work for that company but I still have to be careful. I have one of those faces that look like I work wherever I’m at. It doesn’t help that my favorite clothes to wear are khakis and a red polo. I have to stay away from Target when I dress that way.
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