I am in search of a (new) name. Of course, this is no reference to my birth name. Changing that will involve placing one of those copious, inconspicuous, newspaper box adverts with the accompanying observance to concerned parties to ‘take note’. This exploration is one that seeks to ride on the trends of present times with particular regards to professional name tags.
You still do not comprehend my harangue? All right, you will agree with me that you would look like something from the medieval ages if you find yourself within the confinement of a corporate organization asking for the ‘Personnel Department’. Nothing could be more démodé. To put yourself in a comprehensible stead, you would need to ask for the ‘Human Resources’ or more stylishly put, the ‘H.R.’. Remember, pronouncing this (particularly the ‘R’) must be accompanied by a twist of the tongue or better still, a bite of the same.
This also explains why a 21st century entrepreneur will in fact be primitive to bear a ‘General Manager’ or ‘Managing Director’. They are now CEOs. The corporate world is replete with these chic name tags. A receptionist at a client’s office once gave me her business card. Below her name was printed ‘FDO’. Out of curiosity I queried her for the meaning of the acronym. The look on her face suggested I must be vieux jeu not to know the decryption. She cheekily replied, ‘Front Desk Officer’. Nowadays, you will be quite offensive to refer to a ‘Personal Assistant (PA)’ as a messenger.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this paradigmatic shift is copyrighted to corporate business outfits – you might be shooting yourself in places you least imagine. I once boarded one of the Lagos new transport scheme vehicles – the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – where a passenger addressed the driver as a ‘driver’. He (the driver) literally spit into the air making a collection of it with his face. He rebuffed to be called a driver but (take a deep breath) a ‘pilot’. My ears tingled not believing what I heard. A ‘pilot’? It really made me feel ‘on board’. Alas, that euphoria was short-lived when realization made me discover that the inside of my ‘airbus’ was filthy enough to make a dunghill green with envy. The interior works also grimly shone with accumulated dirt where the possibility of contacting diseases like Tuberculosis dwells in zenithal realms. Moreover, I was puzzled: How would the tout-like bus conductor be addressed – Land Host(ess)?
What is more, our neighbourhood schools, a lot of which are hardly known on adjacent streets, have now gone ‘international’ (American, British, Indian, Turkish, etc) or ‘Montessori’. Who would want to register their children/wards in ‘ordinary’ nursery, primary or secondary schools? Not even a ‘college’; that’s so archaic.
I grew up in an era when all tailors were ‘London-trained’ even when majority could not differentiate between London and America – anywhere outside the shores of Nigeria was either abroad, overseas, London or America. Much later, tailors ganged up and rejected that name tag – ‘tailor’ – with many of them cloaking themselves as ‘Fashion Designers’. In present times, you will indeed be old-fashioned to be looking for a fashion design outfit. They’ve now been re-christened ‘Coutures’ and ‘Cloth Lines’. In the same vein, barbers and hairdressers are now professional ‘stylists’ and/or ‘cosmeticians’.
Events and programs were in ages past ‘sponsored’ but today they are now being ‘powered by’ sponsors. Moreover, the same events no longer have ‘Masters of Ceremony (MCs)’ as their coordinators but ‘Compères’. Likewise, entertainers and musicians are in today’s lexicon, ‘artistes’ who ‘drop’ ‘single’ albums all over the place like the stool of a bird in flight. You will wonder if all comedians used to ‘sit down’ to craft and ply their trade as all are now ‘Stand-Up Comedians’.
A more precarious side to this new name trade is the involvement of quacks parading ‘selves as professionals also adopting these voguish tags. Or can you comprehend a hospital attendant who runs a neighbourhood patent medicine store and swanks him/herself as a ‘doctor’ or ‘nurse’? Our urban centres are sated with middlemen charlatans gadding as ‘estate agents’. Many individuals have fallen victims of ‘trial-and-error’, ill-trained so-called technicians who carry about as ‘computer engineers’. They operate a mobile office instituted in a bag containing all sorts of odd-shape screw drivers, cannibalized hard disks and other hardware and all forms of pirated installation CDs. In addition, informal thrift operators have turned to ‘Financial Consultants’.
Interestingly, the religious circle is not spared. Clergymen are no longer common ‘pastors’. Depending on the image to be portrayed, this league of individuals now vary from ‘set men’, ‘(arch)bishops’, ‘general overseers (GOs)’, etc. Another occupying development is the ‘ville’ suffix to many names of businesses, organizations and institutions.
In light of the foregoing, you would come to agree that I need an urgent name change before my profession goes the way of ‘dinosaurian’ extinction all because I refuse to go with the times by adopting a ‘cool’, ‘happening’ tag. I solicit for help as I’ve failed to come up with one that would be catchy and acceptable. If you care to assist, mine is one that is exclusively civil out of the engineering profession. This is an SOS call before the maiden species of engineering turns old-hat.
Send me a name!