To a first approximation, the lower someone’s social and economic class, the more names they know.
For a proof, you need only pay attention the next time you are in a diner, a Dunkin ‘D or other coffee shop that is not Starbucks, or stop to buy food on the street, and so forth.
You will find that the clients and service staff know each other’s names. Each has offered the other the gift of their name, and has received in return an equally precious gift in the form of the name of person they asked.
You will also find that that who the hopefully few who don’t know the names of the employees serving them are obviously wealthier than those who do.
I have come to realize that I have been guilty of expecting people to serve me without knowing their name, and I now appreciate that to do so is to dishonor them.
I have thus committed to get to know as many of their names as I can, and have made some progess.
Each name is a precious gift.
It starts a relationship.
Often the name itself suggests a story. For example, one of the owners of the Millwood Deli is named Margaret, the name I would have had I born a girl, “Margaret Susan.”
Another, at the bagel store in Bedford Hills, is named Heather. It is an unusual name. The last person I knew with the same name was the sister of a classmate in high school, and I told that to Heather. Heather also has a wonderful smile. She also speaks Spanish, so I told her that my oldest daughter, Alison, has the middle name “Sonrisa.” She smiled, for “sonrisa” means “smile” in Spanish.
So ask for the gift of name.
Not only will you receive a name in return, I bet you will also get a smile.