Living Retired –‘The Name Game’
Living Retired — ‘The Name Game’
By Gary Chalk
Whenever my iPhone rings the first thing I do is check call display to see who is calling — if the name doesn’t ring a bell, I let the call go into my voicemail. So, the other day when call display identified the caller as Patrick Leaffilter in Toronto I thought to myself I don’t know Patrick Leaffilter and thought nothing more — other than what it must be like to be stuck with the name Patrick Leaffilter!
Later that night I checked call display again. This time it provided me my answer. It turned out it wasn’t Patrick Leaffilter calling me, it was Patrick at Leaf Filter gutter protection — call display neglected to add a space between Leaf and Filter. By the time I listened to Patrick at Leaf Filters’ voicemail about fixing my leaky gutters it was water under the bridge.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been caught off guard by a person’s name. One name that stands out goes back to my radio career. Here is what happened…
I began as an announcer at a small radio station. One day the program director called all the rookie announcers to his office. We thought it was going to be another ‘teaching moment’ — perhaps demonstrating how to burp while reading the farm report without a listener knowing. (I said listener because we didn’t have listeners.) Instead, our boss threaded an audition tape in the tape recorder. (If you’re under 40 years old look up ‘tape recorder’ in the dictionary. First look up ‘dictionary’ in Wikipedia.) The fellow who submitted the audition tape was named Ammasa. His last name was Feathers. Ammasa Feathers! When I heard this you could have knocked me over with a feather (I couldn’t pass that one up!). But think about it: you’re listening to the radio and the announcer says, “Reporting from city hall this is Amassa Feathers.”
One time the strange name turned out to mine, sort of. I was now working at a radio station in a different market. I was invited to emcee an event for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s visit to town. First I had to complete a personal security check. The ‘suits’ interviewed me by phone. They asked for the correct spelling of my name. “Yes, my name is Gary Chalk. Chalk as in ‘blackboard.’” I was told I would receive the official clearance by special delivery. Soon an envelope arrived addressed to — get ready! — Mr. Gary Blackboard.
How about this name? The run up to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics included an opportunity for Canadians to ‘Share the Flame’ running a kilometre carrying the Olympic torch that had been lit in Greece and would eventually light the cauldron to open the Olympics. I was thrilled to be selected to carry the torch for a kilometre. It was Christmas Eve, and I handed the torch over to a woman whose last name was Christmas. I said, “Merry Christmas Mrs. Christmas!”
Wives have names they call their husband — Babe, Cutie Pie, and Honey come to mind. My friend Doug calls himself ‘Handsome Doug.’ His wife Sandee doesn’t. She says, “Doug, did you take the garbage out?”
“Jan how about you call me Gorgeous Gary?” When she stopped laughing she said, “Gary, did you clean the toilets?”
Stop the press! Just now I received a voicemail from a friendly woman who asked that I return her call to confirm my upcoming appointment. Brace yourself: I am having root canal surgery and her surname is Carver! OMG!
The last strange name is me again. When I type my name on my computer keyboard using WORD, the feature that automatically finishes the word I am spelling completes my name for me. BUT, sometimes I accidentally press the ‘F’ instead of the ‘G.’ Then I spell the rest of my name: I press ‘A’ and then the ‘R.’ At this point instead of my name coming across as Gary it comes out as Fart. OMG! Occasionally I forget to Spellcheck, and the email gets sent with ‘Yours truly. Fart.’ Thank heaven this has not happened in a long time.
Have a great week. I will be back with another Living Retired column next Monday.