Wednesday, June 16, 2004

My Name's Rick

I go by Rick. How hard is it to remember to call me Rick?

Apparently, it's sometimes very hard. I spend a lot of my day on the phone with customers (I work in technical support). When I leave voice-mail messages, or when I write e-mails, I sign off as Rick. Not Ricky. Not Ricardo. Not Rikki Tikki Tavi.

So of course today a customer called me back and said, "How you doing, Ricky?" I grated my teeth, and smiled.

Depending on my mood, or the customer's temperament, I'll nip it off at the bud: "Call me Rick." But more often than not, I'll let it slide, emphasizing the "y-less" Rick in future voice mails and e-mails. Sometimes they get the hint.

I liken my plight to Rick Schroeder. As a child actor, he's most famous for playing Ricky Stratton in the sit-com Silver Spoons. Of course, as he "grew up", his character's named changed, losing the "y", becoming "Ricker". The actor also decided "Ricky" (the name) was best left to childhood, and eventually he made his way back to television (on NYPD Blue) as Rick.

Rick and I have at least this in common: We'd prefer to be called Rick. I think people who instantly start calling me "Ricky" want to "buddy up" by nicknaming me even further. Tacking on the "Y" implies a familiarity. (I was guilty of this practice with a co-worker named Andrew. I spoke with others about "Andy's" work, and someone pointed out: "He's Andrew! Not Andy.")

The customer did call me back later this afternoon, and surprised me by apologizing for calling me "Ricky" in our earlier call. Without too much fanfare, I moved the conversation past this apology. Inside, I was beaming. And Rick's not even my real name!

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