In most of the restaurants I sit in, the servers offer me their names. I always make sure to remember their names or at least ask them to repeat if I didn't get it the first time. I even make sure to use their name a bit regularly. I've heard plenty of horror stories about servers in the food service industry being horribly mistreated, and I always thought that using their names was my little way of ensuring that they know that I acknowledge their efforts and their capabilities as a human being.
However, this viral TikTok has me thinking about how liberally I use a worker's name when speaking with them and when I might be crossing some personal boundaries. Gotta give a shout-out to this Walmart employee who offers an important lesson on her TikTok when she removes her name tag at work.
This Walmart employee removes her name tag at work when she feels uncomfortable.
In late October 2023, Ruby Enriquez on TikTok (@ruby_enriquez.vicente) posted a video that almost immediately went viral on the platform. In her quick 13-second clip, she revealed what she does when on the clock at Walmart if someone makes her "feel weird and uncomfortable."
She secretly peeled her name off of her name tag, looking over her shoulder all the while. Once it was off, she quickly put away her name and went back to work.
"The world is scary," Ruby wrote in her TikTok description. While she didn't go into any details about who made her feel uncomfortable and why, we can only imagine how bad it was if she felt the need to hide any identifying marks on her person. She likely didn't want the customer in question to know or remember her name.
Unsurprisingly, people in the comments section have their own harrowing experiences of dealing with the same situation as Ruby. For the most part, all of them take steps to hide their real names from customers while at work.
One woman joked, "I work at Walmart, too. My boss lets me have a nickname cuz I've been there. My badge says Megatron. The kids love it."
Another person complained about their past retail job and how invasive it felt. They wrote, "I worked retail, and as a manager, they had our first and last names on our name tags. I hated that!"
Other people had different, more identity-friendly policies at work. One TikToker commented, "We don't have to wear our name tags, so I keep mine in my apron pocket. I'm a cashier and so many customers address me by name. I don't like it."
Thanks to this, I've learned an important difference between knowing an employee's name and knowing when to use it, if at all. It's one thing if a name is offered to you, name tag or no name tag. But I truly had no idea that just because someone's name is out there doesn't mean they feel comfortable using it.
Looking back on it, there are probably plenty of times when I as a customer used a server's name way too much in the span of one interaction. I personally apologize to any employee I've ever made uncomfortable by using their name in our interactions. I'll definitely scale back on that to avoid making those employees too uncomfortable.
Name tags do not equate to an interest in human interaction, especially if an employee is uncomfortable with a customer knowing their name.