Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Unknown Nicknames

Seems that all my posts recently have been triggered by something I see on social media.  Guess that is the best I can do when I am housebound by weather or illness. 

This little jewel reminded me of something I wrote a long time ago.  I dusted it off to post here.  

 Do you have any nicknames you don’t know about? Are you sure? Well, don’t be so positive you know that answer. Why? you ask. There are nicknames we pick up in life we are unaware of. Names others give us based on our habits, personality or even the way we dress. Names we would work to expunge if we knew they existed. Let me tell you about a few of the people I have known.  

Over the years, I have known people that were called, behind their backs: Purple Lady, Dumpster Diver, Fagan, Backward Charlie, Trashman, Bow Lady, Coupon Cheat or Cigarette Lady by their co-workers, neighbors, church members, store clerks or friends. Many of the names were self-explanatory while others had quite a story behind them.

One of the first people I met after moving to a new town back in 1978 was a sweet elderly woman named Arlene, who lived with her husband in a house across the street. At some point in every conversation with each new neighbor I met, I would be asked if I had met the Cigarette Lady yet. One morning I was waiting in the checkout line at the gas station when I heard one clerk mention to another that the Cigarette Lady had been in again. Another day I was in a training class for new checkers at the Shop ‘n Save when the trainer began to mention problem situations and how to handle them. One of her examples was someone called the Cigarette Lady. A few days later I finally met the Cigarette Lady when she knocked on my door asking to borrow a pack of my husband’s smokes. If only took me a second to figure out that my sweet neighbor Arlene was in fact, the infamous Cigarette Lady. I soon learned that shortly after being diagnosed with a respiratory disorder and having her cigarette budget canceled by her husband: Arlene began making the daily rounds of anywhere she thought she could mooch a cigarette. She would hit up all the neighbors and even their guests if she saw them smoking. She would stand outside the gas stations and ask each person who purchased a pack to give her one until the complaints got her evicted from the lot. She would do the same on the parking lots of the supermarkets and drug stores. As a result, she was known by most of the people in town simply as the Cigarette Lady and when they saw her coming they would go the other way to protect their expensive smokes. Did Arlene know how she was perceived by those around her? Did she care? You will have to ask her, but after years of being her neighbor and friend, I don’t think so. Her addiction to cigarettes trumped any embarrassment she may have felt. I asked her husband if he was aware of her activities and her nickname. He said that it was a shame and hoped it caused some reduction in her smoking, but it did not change his stance on providing Arlene with cigarette money.

One of the ladies who regularly checked out through my grocery line was known by everyone as the Bow Lady. I never learned the Bow Lady’s real name but I did learn that she was a high school teacher and also taught Sunday school classes at the Baptist church. She was very nice and seemed well liked by her students but even they called her Ms. Bow Lady. The Bow Lady was an attractive matronly woman who wore business suits with white button down collared blouses. She came by her nickname because she had the habit of wearing multi- colored package bows made of curly ribbons at the neck of her blouses. Did she know or care that she was considered a bit strange?

If you are a creature of habit and often visit the same places, eat the same food, wear the same color or style of clothing or make the same purchase from your local store----------watch out. You may already have a nickname you might not like.


  1. Isn't that funny? We have nicknames for several people we see around town in Oregon and around our RV Park here, but in all that time I never thought about the fact that people probably have nicknames for me. How we do deceive ourselves! (I might be known as the camera lady, as several people have stopped to ask me what I'm taking pictures of ... It might be a puddle or a bug or the sky. People think that's weird, for some reason ;>). I hope that is my most eccentric behavior!

  2. I love this! Yep, I'm sure we all have nicknames..
    I have a very old and loud blue truck. So I might have the nickname from your post. I'm including two links to posts on my blog about the same subject. I hope you enjoy them. If you'd rather I didn't do this, please feel free to delete the post. No problem at all!