Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Is in a Name

I have difficulty in decoding the usage of names. Let me give several examples:

1. When back in a hospital I get called Dr. McGarty no matter what, even though I am not licensed to practice Medicine. A couple of years ago when back at the Brigham this was pandemic. For a while I thought I was in a 1950s movie of Dr Kildare.

2. In a medical specialists office I am called Dr. McGarty by the staff and depending on how well I know the specialist it is Terry or Dr McGarty.

3. In upscale professional settings such as a good law firm it is Mr. McGarty.

4. By anyone under 40 it is Terrence if they have no clue who I am. Now I never use Terrence other than in a legal context, for after all it is my first name.

5. In my local doc's office, nice local guy, his staff calls me Terrence. As if I and all the other patients were pets, Spotty, Rover, etc. I remember my first copy of Harrison's I think the 5th edition, used, the first chapter was on how to greet patients. "Mr Jones" or "Mrs Smith", well before Gloria Steinham. One demonstrated respect, and perhaps a professional approach.

6. At a trial if one wants to denigrate a witness one calls them by their first name. Old trick.

7. But what has happened to the younger set? Answer, teachers. They were the one's who established the code of human interaction, and well they went down the drain. In an academic setting it was and may still be at better institutions Prof. McGarty etc. Yet at low level institutions, such as my local Community College, it was Terrence.

So what is in a name? It tells you the "class" of the user. Yes, class, it is like the use of "huh" or "uh" or "Um". Animal grunts, resulting from the collapse of our primary and secondary educations system. Do we have problems, yes indeed, and it begins with manners.