Geeking Out Over Your Badge

Everyone has something they geek out over. Maybe something you don’t think other people care much about so you try to keep it under wraps most times. And then you unexpectedly encounter a kindred spirit, causing you to burst free from your constraints and revel in the moment of solidarity.

That happens to you, right?

Right?

Well, it happened to me recently. A co-worker stopped by my office and asked, “Do you ever get bothered by all the signs around here that say ‘Everyone must scan your badge‘?”

He didn’t get much further than “Everyone must” before I was jumping up and down, pointing at him, and saying “Yes! Yes! Oh, my goodness, yes! Those signs drive me crazy!”

“I mean,” he said, “I’m looking around thinking, ‘how many times do I have to hand out my badge so that everyone else can scan it?'”

“I thought the same thing! And I always wanted to say something to someone but I thought most people wouldn’t get it so I never have.”

“Well… that’s why I came to you. I knew you’d understand.”

“You definitely made the right call,” I said, still on a bit of an adrenaline rush that someone else had been bothered by the signs and said something to me. “If you had said something to Tony, he would have just given you a blank look or rolled his eyes and made a disparaging remark.”

“I mean,” I continued, “it’s a tricky problem, right? Because ‘Everyone’ means…”

“That it should be ‘his or her badge’ – I know,” he jumped in. “And that’s awkward on a sign but it’s still what’s right.”

“I’ve often thought about how they could reword it. I’d prefer ‘You must always scan your badge’.”

“Me too. Just say ‘Scan your badge! Every time!”

I don’t know how it is with other flavors of geeks, but having a moment with a fellow grammar geek can make a person’s day. And really, the world would be a better place if every establishment identified a grammar-geek-on-call that would be contacted before any text was committed to a sign or any other official or permanent communication.

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What Makes a Geek

Daryl may very well qualify as a full-fledged Geek. And I think he’s pretty much OK with that. I have come to the conclusion that being a geek… or a nerd, I’m not going to try to distinguish between the two, has nothing to do with how smart you are or even what you are interested in. It has to do with your attitude and care factor.

Here’s what I mean. Jane is interested in many nerdy things. She is very intelligent and does well in school. However, she wants to be popular and she knows what parts of her might make that difficult if she let them shine too much… or at the “wrong” times.

Saturday, she was wearing neon green shorts, a hot pink cami, knee-high blue softball socks with white polka dots, and bright orange Converses. Her closest friends would have thought she looked quirky and cool. But when it came time to go to a birthday party, she had toned it down.

“Why did you change?”

“I needed to deweirdify myself. There’s going to be cheerleaders at this party. They wouldn’t understand.”

Daryl, on the other hand, really couldn’t care less what other kids think. He painted his fingernails in second grade and when a little girl told him that boys don’t paint their nails, he responded, “Well, that’s obviously not true since this boy does.”

He once spent two years growing out a rat tail because he wanted to dress up as a Jedi Padawan for Halloween and wanted an authentic braid. Some kids at school called him the “funny hair boy” but he didn’t mind.

I don’t have a problem with either child’s approach. So far, Jane’s desire to fit in has not caused her to compromise her interests and talents. She just acts the way that fits the group she’s with. She’s developing good social skills that will help her interact with a variety of people, not unlike her dad. At least, I hope that’s what she’s doing. As long as she maintains integrity and doesn’t do inappropriate things just to fit in, she’ll be fine.

Daryl is cultivating his independence and self-confidence. He’s not interested in conforming to other people’s expectations. He’ll probably have a better sense of himself than his sister will of herself. But he might have more trouble fitting in with people who lack his interests.

It’s fascinating to watch them each make their way in the world and to see how they each mix the qualities they gained from their parents in different and unique ways.