Moving to a new place always makes me wonder if my nickname, Spadge, will follow. I always hope it does.
It usually takes me a while to get a stranger on board with it in the first place, especially when it’s a partner’s parent or a new boss. The name originated while I was studying at a college in Mansfield, amongst a small group of friends but was soon picked up by the rest of the class, our tutors and then even into other classes and college buildings. What really ignited the spark, however, was the internet.
MySpace was at its most popular around the time that I left college, and it was during the library induction at University that my new classmates decided to add each other online. Within these first couple of days in Lincoln, I had to explain why everybody else on the internet referred to me as ‘Spadge’, then it didn’t take long for my new classmates to do the same.
University caused a bigger chain reaction than I could have ever imagined. I met new people every single day; housemate’s friends, friend’s housemates, study groups, their classmates and partners, etc. and in a small city like Lincoln, introductions only had to be made once before you started running into each other everywhere. It paid to remember names (and avoided the embarrassment of forgetting).
Then Facebook arrived. Just in time for me to build a handy visual resource of our entire University circle. It was almost too easy to keep the nickname flowing between groups of people on Facebook. Photos were tagged with the name daily and soon even my mum started shouting ‘Spadge!’ when someone called for me at home during the holidays.
Tutors signed me into class as ‘Spadge’, baristas wrote ‘Spadge’ on my coffee cups, and I think the majority of acquaintances only actually learned my real name when I approached the stage at graduation.
I feared losing that identity so much after University. Friends started to leave Lincoln while I stayed, finding my first professional clients to work for. I got lucky. Working for myself made it easy because I called my business Spadge UK. A lot of these clients came from Lincoln and through word of mouth, so the name was simply passed on between clients. Then my first agency job in Lincoln was at a company where a couple of guys from Uni already worked. Sorted. My second job came from a very kind gesture from a University tutor, so again, word of mouth meant that I was already being referred to as ‘Spadge’. But then I made a huge and potentially destructive decision late last year – to move to a job where nobody knew me and to a city where I had no connections within the local community.
Starbucks wouldn’t know my order, never mind my name (I like peppermint in my coffee, okay!). The photo-development place wouldn’t follow me on Facebook, my neighbour wouldn’t Tweet me and my new boss would have only skimmed the word on my CV. Would ‘Spadge’ survive the leap to Leicester, like it did from Mansfield to Lincoln? I had been in Lincoln for almost 8 years and this was a job with no external introduction.
Again, I got lucky. The girl next to me in the office is also called Sarah, apparently a popular name in the late 80’s, huh mum? So when it came to differentiating between the only girls on our table, I offered them the perfect solution. ‘Spadge’ not only lives on but saves a lot of confusion within the office.
Yesterday I was walking down the hallway and one of the warehouse guys (who only nips into the office every now and then) shouted ‘Oi, Spadge!’. I replied with a cool and casual ‘Sup?’ on the outside, and a ‘You just made my friggin year…’ on the inside.