Did people ever make fun of you as a kid? Maybe your ears were large. Or, maybe your voice was too high or low, depending on your sex. There could be dozens of reasons that, as a kid, you were picked on, or in today's vernacular, bullied. In my case, people made fun of my last name: Dick.
I haven't any idea of the name's origin. I don't know a nationality that would claim it, but somehow my father's family ended up with it. Therefore, as father is named, so too is son.
I've heard more awful jokes about my name than you can imagine. I mean really, I've heard them all — long, short, hairy, big, little. If someone thought that adding an adjective to my last name created a funny phrase, they said it. I've used the phrase, “Stick and stones …” more times than you can count.
Fast-forward to today. Not much is said to me anymore about my last name — probably because I'm older, or even just old. Anyway, adults seem less likely to make fun of my name. Sometimes an authority person will make the mistake of asking, “What's your first name? Bradley or Dick?” I just reply “Moby.” That usually shuts them up.
This January, I was researching broadcast engineer training when I ran across the firm Cleveland Institute of Electronics (CIE). To get more information about its program, I had to complete an online form. I got as far as filling the box with my last name when my screen was immediately filled with a warning notice, “Inappropriate language.” You can see a screen grab of the message at www.broadcastengineering.com/images/inappropriate.jpg.
CIE had determined that my name, Dick, is inappropriate language. The site refused to process my information request until I changed my last name.
I decided to try another approach by changing the entry in the last name field to, “You may not like my last name but it's still Dick.” Wham, I hit the enter key and the data was accepted.
About three weeks later, I received an automated e-mail response from CIE. Here's how the e-mail was addressed. “Dear Brad You may not like my last name but it's still Dick.”
The e-mail invited me to take a free quiz to identify the best type of training for me. I'm also getting e-mails from Elizabeth at e-learning.com filled with photos of pretty girls inviting me to click for more information.
That was bad enough, but now my own company is bullying me because of my name. When registering at the new Broadcast Engineering Forum, I typed my username, “bdick,” completed the remainder of the form and hit enter.
Once again, the language censors took over. “Filled in username is prohibited on this forum.” (This one can also be found at www.broadcastengineering.com/images/inappropriate.jpg.)
What's most distressing is that our Web wizards claim this can't be fixed. To which I replied, “Yes, it can be fixed, but that would take an engineer, and all you've got are programmers.”
Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org