shame

What's in a Name Badge?

A little while ago, I ran into some colleagues on the way home from work, and one of them pointed at my chest, lifted an eyebrow and asked, “You’re wearing your name badge home?” I told her I was, and that I always kept my name badge in my purse in case I needed it for something. The truth is, sometimes I forget to take it off, but sometimes I leave it on intentionally. I leave it on because it’s a weapon in a battle I face everyday. It sends a message I don’t need to verbalize—that I have a job, that I can take care of myself. It reminds me that I’ve made it, that I’ve pulled myself out of the poverty hole I grew up in. It acts as a shield against my memories of food stamp and milk vouchers and the barely contained repugnance of more privileged shoppers at the grocery store.