That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet. –William Shakespeare
Ok, I love me some Shakespeare but this passage is not in the context about which I want to talk. What I do want to talk about is a little something that I noticed the other day that made me think about the importance of knowing and using someone’s name.
In the apartment building in which Lily and I live we have a doorman, several actually. They switch in and out between 12-hour shifts. Doormen in Colombia are pretty common. Known as “porteros”, their main job, not so oddly enough, is to unlock and open the door for you to enter the building, and many times open the door for you as you leave. That was something that took a little getting used to for me. Although they are usually very kind I’m not the type of person who desires to be greeted and has to speak to someone every time I go in or out of my home. But I adjusted and now I’m pretty ok with it.
We have come to know the two main porteros fairly well, Andres and Hoover. Just a side note, I, for the longest time, thought his name was Uber because that’s how you pronounce it in Spanish, (the H is silent and the V is sounded very much like a B), but I digress. We made it a point to learn their names and be friendly with them from the very first, after all, if you’re going to be seeing someone multiple times a day it may be a good idea to be on good terms with them, don’t you think?
Andres and Hoover need a day off now and then and that’s why we started seeing new faces at the door. Likewise, we asked them their names and tried to greet them by name each time we saw them. Some are a little more friendly than others but that’s to be expected, you know, human nature and all.
I’m not sure why but there was one doorman that I neglected to ask his name when I had first seen him. Maybe I was distracted or busy talking to Lily or something. After a few times going in and out under his watch I decided that I didn’t like him as much as some of the others. He was a short man, not as friendly looking as the others, and never said much to us over a mumble. I had set it in my mind that he must not have liked his job very much. When speaking amongst ourselves about the porteros we began to refer to him as, “the bad one”.
One day while attempting to leave the building I saw him, “the bad one” at the door. Being overwhelmed by guilt or just feeling it’s time to make nice I stopped and asked him his name. “Fernando”, he said, barely over a whisper. Well, the next time I saw Mr. Fernando at the door I made sure to greet him happily using his name, and much to my surprise, he answered back loudly and clearly with a happy greeting of his own. I left the building that day thinking, “Wow, what a difference.” The next few times that I saw him he was a different person. He had become more friendly and outgoing with me, even his outward appearance began to change, he began to look more friendly.
One day he surprised me, again. As I entered the door he called me by name, but not Randy, the name in which I introduced myself to him many days before. He said, “Don Randall”. Don is not part of my name, for those not familiar with the Latin culture, Don is used before the first name to show respect, kind of like “Mr.”. I was surprised because only Andres called me Don Randall. I deduced that Fernando must have forgotten my name but was wanting to call me by name to return the kindness, so he asked Andres who the gringo was, and Andres told him, “Don Randall”. That’s my guess.
That was one of the last times I saw Don Fernando, I guess he moved on to another building or another job, I’m not sure. But I have thought about him often since then, how just using his name made such a big difference in his demeanor. I was sorry I had not done that sooner.
You know the Bible has a lot to say about the importance of names. Proverbs tells us that a good name is to be desired above great riches. God has changed the names of several prominent people throughout the Bible. Jesus knows His sheep and He calls them by name, and Jesus has the name above every other name. Just to name a few, no pun intended.
This experience has left me thinking a lot about the power of using someone’s name. Next time you’re at the grocery store, the pharmacy a restaurant, or any other place where you encounter people, take a moment, ask the person helping you for their name and bless them by using it. Maybe, just maybe that kindness might be enough to brighten their day, change their mood, or even something more.
Thanks for reading,
To God be the glory.
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