I’ve never had a nickname. Up until high school, I even objected to people calling me Dave instead of David, but that doesn’t bother me anymore. For a couple years, a roommate called me DG (my initials), which evolved into Deege. I remember a couple of her friends occasionally calling me Deege too, but that never really caught on outside our apartment. By the way, writing it out like that reminds me of DJ Tanner from “Full House,” who also went by Deege (which, and you can use this to impress your friends at a cocktail party, is a nickname for DJ, which, in turn, is a nickname for her birth name, Donna Jo).
One of my pet peeves is when people call me Big Guy or some variant of it, like Big David, Big Dave, or Big D. It makes me cringe. When I was a lot heavier, it would bug me because I didn’t think it was necessary to reference my size when addressing me. Even now, with the weight loss, it still bugs me, and for the same reason. My name isn’t hard to remember. It was one of the top ten boy names from 1936-1992!
Luckily for me, I rarely get called this. Growing up, it happened every once in a while, and never by people that were close to me. It was always fathers of other kids on a sports team, or a substitute teacher, or someone I had just met. Usually, I would ignore them, especially if they were trying to get my attention, and they would quickly revert to my actual name.
Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever had to ask anyone to stop calling me Big Dave… until this week. I had taken my car into the dealer for some service. I’ve been taking my car there for 7 or 8 years, but my service adviser had recently quit, so I was dealing with a new guy, Joey. The first time Joey called me Big Dave was when I dropped off the car. He included it in a sentence about how they’re going to take of me and get me back in my car as soon as they could, and I let it slide.
Later that day, Joey called me with an update, and started the phone call with “Hey, Big Dave!” and then launched into an lengthy report on the status of my estimate. I didn’t say anything then because the conversation had moved forward, and instead of backtracking about his greeting, I asked questions about the maintenance work.
But his usage of Big Dave was on my mind the next day, when I went to pick the car up. I knew I would say something if Joey used that nickname again. For a good ten or fifteen minutes, he didn’t use it at all, and I thought it wasn’t going to happen… until I headed to my car to drive away. “Thanks for stopping by, Big Dave, and we’re here for you for whatever you need!”
I didn’t let this one slide. “You don’t need to call me that again,” I said. I immediately wished I had worded it in a way that included the word ‘please,’ but that’s not how it came out in the moment.
“Oh, oh,” Joey replied, his face instantly showing concern. “I’m sorry, I just use it because you’re so tall, and I’m short. I’m Short Joey.” Joey is around 5’8″. I’m 6’4″.
“I know you don’t mean it maliciously,” I said, “but I really don’t care for it.”
Joey apologized again, then asked a question. “What, have you lost a lot of weight or something?”
“I sure have. I’ve lost 160 pounds and kept it off for over 3 years.” I pulled out my phone and showed him a couple ‘before’ pictures (which you can see here). “And names like Big Dave are a pet peeve.”
This really shut Joey up, except to congratulate me on my success. I could tell he felt bad, so I thanked him again, repeatedly, for the work done on my car, and left feeling glad that I stood up for myself.
Plus, I got lots of exercise, too! The dealership is 2.5 miles away, so after dropping off the car, I ran the whole way home (it took 27 minutes), then jumped on an exercise bike and rode for another 23 minutes. The next day, I ran back to the dealership, taking a slightly different route that was 2.9 miles (31 minutes). Later that evening I rounded out my workout with a Powerwave Battle Ropes class at my gym.
Keep it up, David!