Last Monday, returning from voluntary work in the library at the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland, I had just hopped off my train at Coopers Plains Station when, looking down as I stepped off the kerb into the carpark, I saw what appeared to be a name tag lying in the gutter. I immediately thought someone could be missing this so I picked it up to read the name. My God! It read Robin Simson in bold print!
When, in my teaching days, I would come home wearing a name tag from a conference or Principal’s meeting, my wife, Dorothy would say, “Hello Robin, now I know who you are.” It became a standard joke in our household. So, should I now wonder, if I really am Robin Simson, or is he or she lying in hospital after being bashed and robbed in the Coopers Plains Station carpark; and if so, maybe I should visit him or her and return that little slip of card, the announcement of his or her identity. Maybe this patient is a mystery, admitted to the hospital’s emergency ward with no identification, the manbag or handbag stolen by the thief. In which case this name tag could be the one clue to his or her identity.
In truth, name tags tell us very little. It’s like a label on one of those little tubs of dip — Garlic and Tomato, Capsicum and Olive. There appears to be hundreds of strange combinations. You only know the truth when you sample it on a cracker biscuit. Then you announce, ‘lovely’, to your host, with the expression on your face telling a different story. The test is in the after taste, after you and the ‘dip’ converse a little more.
One might think when introduced at a conference, ‘Robin and Simson is a strange combination’. Shouldn’t it be Robyn and Simpson for starters. And if this person is female has she lost her hair to chemo-therapy and there is now just a little stubble growing back; or if male, why can I see nipples pushing out of his shirt, and why does he wear a neck scarf and not a tie. Ultimately like the dip, any superficial gender considerations should not matter, the test of identity is in the tasting — getting familiar, knowing how the person thinks. It is the after taste that you will remember.
Still there could be other explanations for the soiled name tag’s return to my life. Did I drop the name tag in my hurry to catch the train in the morning, and did some thoughtful soul pick it up in the carpark and place it just where the owner was likely to see it as he or she left an afternoon train and stepped into the carpark to go to his or her car. Or had someone eating dip at a social gathering see that I had left it behind, and with good intentions to return it to me, carried it around for weeks in a coat pocket forgetting about and it; and it somehow fell to the ground without them noticing as they took out their railway gocard. Indeed, there are 1001 scenarios as there are dip flavours.
The truth is most likely more like this. I put on the RGSQ name tag before leaving home to go to the train. I was running late for the train due in two minutes, and already announced by the loudspeaker on the station platform. Rushing from the car, I knocked the name tag off with my manbag as I slung the bag over my shoulder. The tag lay in the gutter all day being scuffed by passing shoes, but no one thought to pick it up. Just left my identity there to be trampled.
Thinking further it could have been washed into the sewer in the next storm and floated away out to sea, into oblivion. Sad, but somewhat a joy, that final adventure we all face. There is something good about death at sea. Saves the family the funeral expenses.
As for today I am still here, Robin Simson writing this piece for my blog. and I have the name tag by my computer it case the computer asks me my name. But I know there is still an aspect of the mystery that defies explanation. The name tag had a clip that attached it to a shirt or coat. The clip was not lying in the gutter when I picked the name tag up. Did a child souvenir the clip and discard the tag? Who knows?
Life is all the more entertaining for the existence of unsolved mysteries.