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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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Hoist by my own Lanyard
I find the sight of people wearing lanyards depressing, especially en masse. When I passed my son's old school at lunchtime today, and saw scores of pupils (and some staff) wandering out for a break, 90% of whom had lanyards dangling from their necks like so many cow bells, a huge distaste rose within me. I bless the child who took hers off and stuffed it in her pocket. She may have been doing it for safety reasons rather than to reclaim her individuality from the corporate Borg, but whatever the reason the gesture warmed my desiccated old heart.

At my old university, I saw the lanyard habit spread inexorably as the years passed, especially once cards became mandatory for swipe access at every door and floor, but I never considered keeping my own card anywhere but my pocket or purse, out of sight. There's something feudal about wearing your school's livery (or your employer's).

I'm reminded of an old Charlie Brown cartoon (I suppose they're all old by now) in which a neighbour explains that his father has renamed all his children with numbers. "Is it his way of protesting against the system?" asks Charlie Brown. "No, it's his way of giving in."

The truth is, my gut despises the lanyard wearers.

Before I run to Portmeirion shouting "I am not a number!", I should add that I realise my gut's reaction is over the top. It comes (as they say) from a very young place. I'm particularly suspicious of it because it feels much like the visceral resistance I used to have to having my fingerprints taken or retina scanned, which prevented me from going to the States for almost a decade. That dissipated like magic when I transitioned, and therein lies a big clue, I think. As a trans person in the climate of a small town in the '70s secrecy was instinctive, and it's easy now to forget how that secrecy dominated my first 44 years. So, perhaps my distaste for seeing people happily proclaiming their identities on lanyards has to do with that - it's a kind of retrospective jealousy dressed as individualism?

I still don't like them, though.

Yes, when I see people riding the bus home with their corporate lanyards still on, I marvel that they apparently don't feel Marked By The Man.

(Yet I find it charming to see people on the bus in their workday scrubs or chef's pants.)

I still remember reading my first news story about a Nike employee getting a swoosh tattoo. I was fascinated and horrified.

I still remember reading my first news story about a Nike employee getting a swoosh tattoo. I was fascinated and horrified.

At least it's not mandatory yet, is the best that can be said for that..

Well, I've learned something. Until today I had a hazy idea of the lanyard as something sailors wore or hoisted or tied cunning knots in...

Yes, it's always had a nautical flavour for me, too - which heightens my disappointment every time I remember what it actually means.

Edited at 2016-09-09 06:40 pm (UTC)

Until today I had a hazy idea of the lanyard as something sailors wore or hoisted or tied cunning knots in...

I associate them first with crafts projects—braiding them into patterns in Girl Scouts, etc.

scores of pupils (and some staff) wandering out for a break, 90% of whom had lanyards dangling from their necks like so many cow bells

I didn't even know that had become a thing. I had a student ID in college and grad school, sure, but I kept it in my wallet with my driver's license and the rest of my personal identification.

So, perhaps my distaste for seeing people happily proclaiming their identities on lanyards has to do with that - it's a kind of retrospective jealousy dressed as individualism?

Possibly, but it also registers as weird to me, especially in an academic context. It feels very corporate to me.

I hated having to wear one, though I used the alternative of a clip with a sort of bunjee thing, which I attached to the underside of my jacket. The argument was that everyone had to be able to see I had a right to be there. After fifteen years I felt most people knew that...

Maybe, but I also hate lanyards. I always take mine off the minute I leave work. The boy often forgets to, and I inevitably ask why he insists on keeping it on. He is generally puzzled because he really doesn't care, whereas I go on about how I dislike being tagged like a wild creature being stalked by scientists.

I unexpectedly had to enter (ie not just transit, which is what I had expected ) Malaysia once, and was fingerprinted there, and hated it. Iris registration would be even worse. Such things are creeping on us, though. :(

I think it's been a requirement for any (non-Canadian) foreigner entering the US since around 2004.

I don't have to wear one. I just do, because it's for my keys, which I would otherwise be losing all the time, and did, till my kindly library technician gave me a lanyard to carry them on. No pockets! I often forget to take it off when I leave work, so anyone who sees me in the street knows where I work(it's a Sunshine a college lanyard).

You know what really stinks? Requiring staff to clock on and off with their fingerprints, as if they're convicts. The non teaching staff at my school clock on this way, though they do have the option of a card, which most of them use. The head honcho prefers the fingerprints, but can't insist on them - and she has a computer that lets her watch as the various clock-ons happen. ("Ah ha! This one turned up two minutes late! Dock them fifteen minutes pay!" It happened once and when the staff member, an office lady, pointed out that she usually turned up an hour early to look after some kids whose parents dumped them early, she was told, "More fool you!") Far worse than a silly lanyard!

Yes, the panopticon is always a tool of oppression!

Here's a poem for you: Billy Collins reading his "The Lanyard." The particular object he's memorializing is braided from yarn or plastic cord, a typical summer camp craft project when we were growing up--perhaps still popular in this lanyard-wearing age.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EjB7rB3sWc

Edited at 2016-09-10 02:15 am (UTC)

Thank you - that was a lot of fun! And an excellent antidote to this.

We were always sort of supposed to wear our cards and nobody did; then we got a new Top Head Boss, who made it A Disciplinary Offence for anyone not to wear their card with the Official Work-Issued Colour-coded Lanyard, because of Safety (so Security could assume anybody not wearing one was A Danger To All And Sundry and escort them off the premises; never mind that you have to actually go a fair distance into the premises to get to reception and get a visitors card, there are events after reception close in the evening, etc).
I tied my lanyard in a knot and clipped it to my belt because wearing things round my neck gives me horrible neckaches.

Then the Top Head Boss kept not wearing his so the policy got quietly shelved.

In inertia our salvation...

You remind me that I used to feel very strongly about similar registration/corporate things.

I guess I've sold out to The Man, though. Since becoming a classroom teacher I've had to wear a lanyard most days ("most" days because honestly I'm quite forgetful so it doesn't always happen). It doesn't bug me now, though if a superior started getting really focused about them I'd probably get annoyed again in a hurry.

It does seem very strange and just plain wrong to my sensibilities to have all the kids wearing them. Are you kidding me? I am okay with staff having to wear them, it really does help us all with security, but the KIDS? No way. If I had to distribute them to my students, I'd keep losing them or keep "running out of time, I'll give them out next week" (and count on admin eventually and inevitably losing interest).

My other pitifully tiny passive-aggressive rebellion is to not fill out any data that's not required on forms. Race? WHY DO YOU NEED TO KNOW, HUH? Lately gender is increasingly not required or there's an "Other." The non-binary movement has no bearing on my own life or identity, but I still choose "Other" just because I never saw why I had to give any info except "name," "email," and perhaps "address."