On badges

By , 1 February 2008 7:45 pm

About 18 months ago, suddenly, without any warning, the college where I work issued us all with name badges, complete with barcode and not terribly good picture. We hang them around our necks with a ribbon with a special easy snap link so that, should students wish to do us harm, we cannot be throttled by our own name badges. I hasten to add this is an extremely rare and even unlikely occurrence; we count ourselves fortunate (I hope we do) because it is very rare indeed for students even to shout at members of staff.

I have decided that I am distinctly ambiguous about my badge. On the one hand, it gives me a sense of belonging. We dress very informally so this is the only thing we have that’s like a uniform. It says to anyone who comes in that I am a member of the college and not a parent, a tradesman or workman. In troubled times it is also a useful security measure and I suppose, in a small way, it gives us some sort of esprit de corps. It is also useful with a number of new teachers who frankly look so young that I might otherwise be tempted to mistake them for students.

And yet, I am also uneasy about my name badge. This was brought home to me this evening when coming in, laden with marking, at a quarter to five I found that almost the first thing I did was go upstairs and take my badge off. I found this interesting: Monday to Thursday evenings, I don’t seem to have too much of a problem with a badge and sometimes my wife has to remind me to take it off before a Bible study. But on Friday nights, even if I have to work in the evening, I feel it is essential to get rid of the badge. I have no doubt there have been deep and penetrating studies done on badges and their significance but my feeling is that we see such a badge as a mark of ownership branded on us by someone else. The weekends I see as my own, and so here I reject any subliminal claims that I belong to my employer during this time. I would imagine those people who wear uniforms must feel something similar; the need to get out of them. There is something proprietorial about wearing the badge of one’s employer.

My difficulty is that I cannot decide whether, spiritually (and surely this is the key point) my unease about the badge is a good thing or a bad thing. Is my wish to separate myself from my employer a good thing (a measure of the freedom I have in Christ? an unease about anything hinting at the Mark of the Beast?) or a bad one (my selfish and sinful desire for independence rearing its ugly head?)? How can I tell the difference?

Quickly, some other news. During February, a Christian fiction site is running me as the blog author of the month and we are hoping that this is the little push that will start the snowball rolling on the slope of fame. Mind you, things are already moving, my Facebook Lamb among the Stars fan group now has 96 names on it (and most look sane! :-) ). This week alone, I have had a request for a website interview and a separately blog site asking for review copies of the books. Well, we will see: I have been in the writing game too long to build my hopes up too much. Indeed, the measure of fame and following that I currently enjoy is probably more than I might have expected.

Blessings one and all.

4 Responses to “On badges”

  1. Boaz says:

    I think that functionally, it is moving your thoughts from work to something else, whatever that is. So I offer the classic good news, bad news. Good news: you’re mentally and spiritually saying that your job does not rule you outside of the bounds where you are subject to it. Bad news: do you do the same thing with Jesus when going to the job? Letting the job come first? I know that put Him out of my mind far, far too much, to the point where often I’m not aware of it.

    Short, perhaps, but this got to be the crux of the matter for me when I was reading.

  2. Terry says:

    Chris,

    I wonder if your motivation to separate yourself from your badge at week’s end has something to do with identity as well as some of the other reasons you’ve mentioned. We define ourselves in many ways: child, parent, spouse, employee or employer, friend, colleague, hobbyist, athlete, etc. And when we have reached some kind of limit in any one area, we are highly motivated to change hats.

    Even in the most fulfilling of roles, be it marriage, parenting, work, or something else, we all get to the point where a little space is a good thing. And when a particular role isn’t at the top of our list, or when the role has been unusually intense, we are probably quicker to shed that “badge” for awhile.

    So perhaps your Friday urge to take the badge off is your way of placing a firm period at the end of your work week sentence.

    And of double spacing for a new weekend paragraph.

    Just thoughts.

    Take care,

    Terry

  3. Chris says:

    Ah Boaz,

    Do I leave Jesus behind at work? What a sharp question! I think not but I guess I need to check!

    Chris

  4. bdwlf says:

    My mother in law works in a public high school (ages 14-18), and is “required” to wear a badge also. She refuses to, as her act of civil disobedience. She is in a small midwestern town, but they have begun to see more and more problems in the past years. She said the problem isn’t so much that the kids are immoral, as they ammoral.

    Her biggest issue is with student privacy mandates. Unfortunately, if there are students with violent tendancies or behavioral issues the teachers receive no warnings. Their behavior is catalogued as medical issues, and therefore private information. In her school there have been issues of physical aggression (of which she has been a victim once).

    Her opinion is, that if the students aren’t wearing badges so that she can identify them, she’s not going to put a “target” around her neck either. (Obviously the policy has not been so enforced as to cause employment issues. It is just her protest against what this society has become.)

    As far as removing the badge at weeks end, by biggest concern would be misplacing it before Monday. :)

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