Monday, November 19, 2007

You're a Slacker, McFly!!!!!!!!!

I remember standing in the hallway in the offices at the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant in Genk, Belgium in the summer of 1999. I was the supplier of the exterior mirrors on the new Ford Transit Van that was being launched there in Genk. I was due up next to go in to report to the launch manager on the status of my parts. When it was my turn, I entered the room, made proper eye contact, gave a firm handshake and said, "Good Afternoon. I'm Jeff Skiver of Donnelly Corporation."

He replied, "Is that really your name?"

I happened to be extending my hand with my business card as I stuttering replied, "Yeah, that's my name."

He took the card and looked at it and said, "Oh my God, that really is your name."

I was noticeably confused. He said, "Well, of course you know what it means don't you?"

"Skiver???," I asked.

"Yes. Skiver. Skiving."

"It is a phrase from the leathercraft field. It means to trim off the top grain of a hide. However, to the best of my knowledge my ancestors weren't tanners."

"Well, I suppose it does mean that, but I mean the more common usage."

Again my face showed confusion. "I suppose I don't follow you, Sir."

"It means to slack off. To be a lazy buggard. You know...where's Jeff? If he's not at his desk then he's out somewhere skiving off."

"You mean, in the UK my name basically means 'Slacker', Sir?"


"Well, we don't use that term in The States."

"That's a shame. It's a good phrase. Do you have any more of these business cards? I've got some friends who will just love to see these."

To this day, I don't remember anything about that meeting with the Ford manager that I had spent days preparing for. I do remember when we left his office I turned to my friend (the Ford Engineer) and said. "Did you know what my name meant?"

"Of course," she replied.

"Why didn't you ever tell me?"

"I assumed you had been teased with it your whole life."

My college roommate (Ron) married a very sweet girl from England (The Isle of Wight, specifically). At some point I realized if I had done the same, my bride would not have taken my name. She wouldn't have even been a hyphenater. I quite likely would have been pressured to take her name.

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