Smitty’s Loose Change #5

Smitty's Loose Change

Everybody’s always got something to add.
I recently saw this list of women’s names

Ann
Anne
Annes
Anais
Anna
Anni
Ani
Annie
Annika
Agnieszka

Ann is a good solid English name taken from the Hebrew Hannah, and means ‘kind, helpful.’ The French language insists that all nouns have gender, and makes Ann feminine by adding an ‘e’ to make Anne. Welsh speakers must think that there’s more than one, because, to them, it becomes Annes (annis). At least one Spanish-Cuban/French woman also pronounced her name annis, but spelled it Anais. Languages like German and Spanish have no silent letters, so the ‘e’ is pronounced, and Anne soon becomes Anna. Languages like Italian converted it to Anni, all except for the unfortunately-named, Italian-American singer, Ani DiFranco.  The construction rules of the original Latin say that one is an anusani means ‘many assholes.’ Some people can’t just leave it short and simple.  A landlady of ours had a son she wisely named Paul, but insisted on calling him Paulie.  I thought she had a parrot.  English soon had females named Annie. Languages like Swedish and Dutch can be poly-syllabic to indicate diminutive and feminine, and the name became Annika. Polish is a ‘busy’ language.  It took Annika, and married it to the similar Greek name Agnew, to create Agnieszka, which, aside from meaning ‘kind and helpful,’ also means ‘little lamb.’

***

Every time I open my mouth, some damned idiot starts talking.

***

After only 5 ½ years at this blogging thing, I finally achieved 1000 followers on April 22nd – and again on April 24thand, once more on April 25th.  WordPress has been doing some home redecorating, and the previous two weeks were inexplicably up and down.  I’d go to bed with 998, and get up to 997.  999?  No, still just 998.  😀  Finally, the magic number was reached.

I thanked and congratulated the gent who finally broke the bank….and got up the next day to 999 again. Twice more it happened before I got two followers in one day, and haven’t looked back.  I’d kinda like to know why.  Were my followers dying, – getting kicked off WordPress – or intentionally un-following me?  I know, don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to.

***

In my blog-post Words, I included the word ‘lagniappe’.  Recently, a little 10-page, throw-away community newspaper has added a food and cooking column.  The author has titled it; La Yapa –Bolivian phrase for that little extra gift given in gratitude by market vendors.  I noticed the common linguistic ancestor.  Did you?

***

For our ‘Good Christian’ friends, Mark Twain said that; It’s easier to fool someone, than to convince them that they have been fooled.

The English surname ‘Bullard’ means – son of a monk or priest.

***

Recently, at about 2:30 AM, my son’s cell phone vibrated to an incoming message. Sent from a phone with a number one digit higher than his, the screen read, “Hi, I’m your text-door neighbor.”  That’s one random way of meeting new people.  I think I still prefer the drunken butt-dial.

***

[Ouг ϲompany camе to the һealth center (which believeѕ that a resort), obtaineɗ cheϲked in, carried սpstɑirs and into οur room. I entered into HUGELУ large moo moo as well as craԝled into the mattreѕs … it waѕ actually meаns ahead of time to be in that bedrоom.Тime, ϲoming from this aspect on, apρeared to crаwl and also go bananas swiftly all concurrently. It crawled coming from facet from yᥱarning for the dаy to become over and also would like to bbe back with our little bit of guy again, as well aѕ it went bananas fast due to the fact that once points stаrted, there was no stopping!]

After insisting that I never receive any interesting spam comments, I downloaded the above, whose occasional strangely sized and shaped letters do not publish as they originally showed.  I fail to see how anyone would think that an excerpt from an illiterate account of a young family’s trip could induce anyone to open it, or access the site.

I won’t waste the time, but I could have some fun correcting all the spelling, punctuation and construction errors.  I do think that it would be a great prompt for a short-story post.  Anybody want to have a go at a Flash Fiction-type challenge and finish it?    😕

I’m Working On It

office-worker

A young woman had been pounding the pavement in search of a job with no luck. Frustrated, she asked her Dad to look at her résumé.  He didn’t get much farther than the first line of her cover letter before spotting the problem.
“Is it too generic?” she asked.
“I doubt it.” said her father.  “Especially since it’s addressed ‘Dear Sir or Madman.”

***

My friend’s hour-and-a-half commute to work got old quickly – the time spent stuck in traffic was sending him over the edge. So I was happy for him when he found a new job closer to home. “That’s great,” I said.  “What are you doing now?”
“I’m a bus driver.”

***

A secretary liked to yammer on the phone to her friends. One day her boss was going to interrupt her chat to tell her to get back to work, when she looked up at the clock and put an end to the conversation.  “Sorry, I have to hang up now.  It’s time for my break.”

***

Applicants at a company were asked to fill out a questionnaire. Among the things that candidates had to list was their high school, and when they attended.  One prospective employee dutifully wrote the name of his school, followed by the dates attended – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

***

A worker at a new company was annoyed that the company’s automated telephone directory had seriously mangled her last name. She called the person in charge and asked that he fix it. “Sorry,” he said, “All requests must be made by email.”
“Okay,” she said, “just tell me how to email the correct pronunciation of Zuckschwerdt.”

***

Winding his way through the office cubicles, the young boss spotted one of his employees playing a video game on the computer. “Why aren’t you working?” he asked.
The employee had an excellent excuse.  “I didn’t see you coming.”

***

“Good morning.” I said to a co-worker in the parking lot. He mumbled something back, and continued toward the door, obviously distracted.  As we walked, I got close enough to hear what he was muttering to himself.
“It pays the bills. It pays the bill.  It pays the bills.  It pays the bills….”

***

One office manager was a tyrant when it came to keeping the printer area clean. A co-worker printed something, but when he went to pick up the document, it was gone. “You know I throw out anything more than 24 hours old.” the manager told him. “But I just printed it.” my friend insisted.
“Sorry,” she said, “But I’m not in tomorrow.”

***

A business-writing instructor read lots of résumés. Inevitably, he ran across some students with skills no employer could pass up, such as; The young paramedic who makes ‘life-threatening decisions’ every day. A child-care worker who can ‘overlook up to 35 children at one time.’ An entertaining young woman who is ‘flexible enough to perform all manner of positions if the situation gets desperate.’

 

The Four Fun Fact Survey Tag

Bible

 

Despite me swearing on a stack of irrelevant Bibles that this is now an award-free site, Cordelia’s Mom found a loophole, and sneaked one in the back door.  We have to be careful about that; folks in Mississippi, and especially North Carolina, get upset about that sort of thing.

She tagged me with, what she and others, call a survey. Tag, I’m IT.  They want four facts about me.  Let’s see….  I’m grumpy (sometimes dopey, often sleepy), I’m old, I’m a dude….   Oh wait, they want fun facts.  Maybe I should just stick with the script.

Four names people call me other than my real name:

In my youth, I was occasionally called ‘Smitty.’ That didn’t last long.  I guess I just don’t look or act like a Smitty, although I’ve begun a new series of random-facts posts, titled Smitty’s Loose Change.

Now that I’m retired, and can be more selective, not having to deal with the madding crowd:
My blog-friends call me Archon.
My kids call me Dad.
My grandson calls me Poppa,
And the cats call me whenever they damn well feel like want food, drink, catnip, litter tray cleaned, skritches, cuddles or naps.

SDC10178

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

I was a bank clerk for about a year, until I discovered that banks were more regimented and less fun than the Army.
I was a Purchasing Agent/Materials Manager for a series of steel/metal processing firms.
I was a Sales Representative for a package courier company (just a small one, not like UPS or FedEx), and a safety supply company.
I gave up fame and fortune, and parked my brain at the door, for a (more or less) guaranteed 40 hours a week income, and worked cutting leather and nylon in a shoe/boot/slipper plant, and then made auto parts for almost 20 years.

In between, during periods of unemployment, I was a building custodian (janitor) for a couple of companies, and a Security Guard at a couple of hotels and an office building, for a couple more. For those interested, it’s all here, and here.

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once:

I don’t remember ever watching any movie more than once at a theatre. I had a neighbor, who, like many others, boasted that he’d seen ‘Titanic’ eight times. Why??  The boat sinks.  Everybody dies!  Didn’t you get it the first seven times?

Any movie I watch more than once would have to fall into the mindless, action genre – any James Bond movie. I rewatched Diamonds Are Forever the other night – any Lethal Weapon.  I saw one of them (they’re indistinguishable-but fun) about a week ago – any Die Hard, Independence Day, Source Code.  I remembered and watched Tony Randall and Burl Ives in ‘The Brass Bottle’ on YouTube a while back.

Four Books Or Authors I’d Recommend:

I hesitate to recommend any book or author, because I don’t know anyone’s preferences, and they can be startling. I know guys who read Historical Romance, and women who devour blood and guts action novels.

From my own pile of unread books, I could mention Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy (now dead, but still being ghost-written by a couple of authors), Steve Perry and Lee Child.

From the Golden Age of Sci-Fi, I’d recommend Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frederick Pohl, or John Brunner.

From the current Sci-Fi crop, I’d mention Eric Flint, David Weber, Charles Gannon and Travis S. Taylor.

Four Places I’ve Lived:

Having lived a relatively unexciting life, I’ve only resided in three municipalities. I was born and raised in the small (2000-) town of Southampton, Ontario.

Graduating high school, I moved 100 miles east, and lived in the small city of Barrie, ON for a year, until the bank and I parted company.

Since this is where the jobs were, I moved to the city of Kitchener, ON, arriving four days before my 21st birthday.  I’m now closing in on my 72nd birthday, so I’ve been here almost 51 years.  Ignoring the boarding house I started in, the wife and I have lived at only six addresses in our married life – all in Kitchener, none in own twin city, Waterloo.

Four Places I’ve Visited: 

With the wife’s inhalant allergies, we can’t fly, and are limited to places we can drive to. We’re not terribly well-to-do, so we travel very much on the cheap.  Still, we’ve seen a few places up and down the US eastern region.

Travelling with my brother, I was able to visit Tampa, Orlando, Key West and Kissimmee in Florida.
Vacationing with the wife, we’ve reached Richmond and Front Royal, VA, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC (A delicious, historical place!  Go there if you can.)
We went to Ottawa, ON and crossed the bridge to Hull, PQ.
We visited Cordelia’s Mom, in Buffalo for the first time, on our way to see lost blogger, John Erickson in the less-than-tiny village of Fresno, OH.

Using knife shows as an excuse, and shopping as a goal, we’ve also trekked all around metro Detroit. Under CM’s aegis, we are now beginning to do the same with metro Buffalo, with a rewarding side trip out to Batavia, NY.

Four Things I’d Rather Be Doing Right Now:

I find I very much enjoy blogging – composing, posting, reading, commenting, replying. I spend a serious amount of time in front of the computer.  Since I don’t know when you’ll get around to reading this, I don’t know what else I might have drifted off to do.  I have three novels on the go. (Short attention span.)  I read a daily broadsheet, and a tabloid-style newspaper.  I might be doing a crossword in either of them, or wafted my way back to the keyboard to do one online.

Four foods I don’t like:

I tried to act picky as a child, but a Scottish mother, fresh from the Great Depression and World War II soon put an end to that. I have problems with fat and gristle in my mouth.  I will gag and throw up.  I eat things like chicken breasts and the inner medallions of pork chops and steaks.

I’d have starved to death in ancient times, or learned to fight the livestock for beans and turnips. Since getting married, I’ve learned to like sauerkraut, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Four of my favorite foods: 

So many choices – so little space! Anything Tex-Mex….tomato, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, chili powder.  Potato pancakes – filet mignon – thick oatmeal. (I am Scottish after all.)

Four Shows I Watch: 

Being the Most Interesting Man In The World, I don’t always have time to watch TV, but when I do;
I watch the NCIS trio. ‘New Orleans’ is more interesting than ‘LA’, and I could live without either, but the original version is just so valid.
I also watch ‘Castle’, which has now been cancelled, ‘Elementary’, which also seems to have come to an end, and ‘Bones’, which is getting creaky and hokey.

Four Things I’m Looking Forward To This Year:

  1. Still viewing the sod from the green side at the end of the year. It’ll be covered with snow, but…
  2. We’ve purchased our last car; the next one’s on the son. Actually, it’s a Kia Sorento sport-ute, which the wife and daughter don’t have to get down into, and up out of. With reliable transportation, we hope to get to Detroit at least once for a shopping trip, and to Buffalo, for a CM-guided tour of the zoo.
  3. If the value of the Canadian dollar rises a bit more, I’d like to travel to the Washington, DC area, and convince another favorite blogger to grant a short meet and greet, before moving on into the Appalachians for one last commune with nature.
  4. Damn, I’m boring, no aspirations, no inspiration. Anybody got suggestions?

Four Things I’m Always Saying: 

  1. What do I take out of the freezer, to thaw for tomorrow’s supper?
  2. What’s a six-letter word for….
  3. Are we there yet?
  4. I am probably as happy as you, to finally be to the end of this list, but thanx, to those who’ve waded through it, and special thanx to CM for allowing me a chance to humorously rewrite War And Peace.

 

 

The Long And Short Of It

Bank of Montreal

Playing Corporation Games, Changing Corporation Names

Once upon a time, long, long ago, before the internet, computers, tablets and smart phones, we had the time to use big words, and impressive speech and writing, and businesses had imposing names.  Then progress(?) brought us Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and all the rest, and our memory and attention span got carved up into little 140 character slices like cheap sushi.

Soon, we were so busy posting pictures of the baked beans we had for lunch that everything had to be shorter, faster, sooner!  The military especially, got into the business of acronyms.  SNAFU to you, too.  The government gave us FBI, CIA, DEA, IRS and NSA.  Companies began re-inventing themselves in sound-bites, or bytes.

The American Oil Company shortly became Amoco.  Standard Oil turned into Esso (S.O.).  Even the Off-Broadway Awards ended up as the Obies (O.B.s).

The record I think, belongs to the City of Los Angeles, which has truncated down from its original, Spanish name of “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula”, to the easily recognised L. A., a 98% reduction.

In Canada, it appeared most noticeable among the banks.  It seemed the larger the company, the smaller the name became.  A century ago, we had time to talk about The Canadian Imperial Bank, and The Bank of Commerce.  When they merged to become The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, they soon became known simply as C.I.B.C.

The Bank of Toronto seduced The Dominion Bank of Canada, and their married name, The Toronto Dominion Bank, was soon merely T.D.  When they almost went down the toilet with some American banks, they were White Knight rescued by Canada’s largest trust company, wisely named Canada Trust.  Strangely, there now seems to be time to say TD/Canada Trust – except by the Americans.

The financially re-invigorated corporation has now taken over a chain of 1300 small banks, east of the Mississippi.  They are known in the U.S. simply as TD Banks, so that Americans don’t think we’re stealing all their cash.

Nobody wanted to merge with poor little Bank of Montreal, and shortening its name to B.M. had unfortunate implications, so it became BMo – Bee-Moe.  When banks stopped being places that just stored and lent money and paid interest, BMo spun off BMo Financial.  To keep the banking separate from the gambling investment side of things, BMo Financial now owns The Bank of Montreal.  When they desperately try to drum up banking business with TV ads, they speak of ‘BMo-Bank of Montreal.’  They have come full circle, and the tail is now firmly wagging the dog.

Company names used to accurately and completely describe what a company did, made or sold.  You knew you were going to get greasy hash from ‘Bob’s Diner’, whereas ‘Roberto’s Food Emporium’ might be a wholesale warehouse, a grocery store or a restaurant.

I worked at Waterloo Metal Stamping, which made parts strictly for office furniture.  So many people approached them to make outside parts that they changed their name to Waterloo Furniture Components.

While not making them shorter, some companies hide behind silly names with no informational value.  If it hadn’t been for a class-action lawsuit, caused by allowing a Chinese company to make yoga pants so thin that the labels on panty liners were legible, I would never know what Lululemon was all about.

Likewise, what the hell does the company named Zulily do for a living??!  These two look like they were named by the smoked-up losers in a scrabble game, from leftover tiles.

Is there a literary copyright© on the name Ali Baba?  We have an Ali Baba Steakhouse locally.  I just hope those are beef steaks, not camel.  I think the company Alibaba, has a name which appears to have been formed by a rear-end collision.  What do they make/sell – camel saddles, sesame rolls, flying carpets, oil lamps??  Open says me – and tell all.  It would take a Genie-us to know.

I recently saw an online ad for a product called Lolo.  It came complete with a questionnaire.  Do you take Lolo?  Are you a doctor who prescribes Lolo?  Not without knowing what the Hell it is!  It turns out to be a new, cutesy birth-control pill.  Just what we needed.  It contains a heavy dose of obfuscation.

Do any of you have any silly name stories?  Don’t rush.  I’ve had enough for a while.   🙄

#474

Oh Yeah? Name One!

I’ve done a post about meanings of family names, and son-/daughter-of names.  This is just a collection of odd/interesting names that can be encountered in North America.  I was talking about this sort of thing with “Long”, my ethnic-Chinese, Thai-born co-worker.  Asian names have strong bonds to family.  Clan name is given first, and member name follows.  This is often reversed here on this side of the planet, but family name is always family name, entirely separate from personal names.

Long had a problem coping with a supervisor being named Todd Craig, when I explained that either Todd, or Craig, could be a surname, or a given name.  He as easily could have been Craig Todd.  I recently met Carson Arthur, whose name rests in the same pile.  Arthur Carson is actually more likely.

Names like these often happen when mothers wish to memorialize their surnames, by handing them to their sons (usually), as given names.  An old James Garner movie had him as a financial wheeler-dealer/gambler named Cash McCall.  Everyone assumed that the money-man had been given a money nickname, until he revealed that his mother’s maiden name was Cash.  The famous Western-writer, Zane Grey was born to a woman of the Zane clan who founded Zanesville, Ohio.

The son works with a man named Bradley Joe.  He’s on Facebook, but you can’t find him.  “Did you mean Joe Bradley?”  He also works with Marc Terry.  A man named Tom Nobody was roughed up by police in 2010’s Toronto G20 summit.  I suspect his name has been translated from another language.  Perhaps his distant ancestor was Odysseus, who told the Cyclops that “Nobody had blinded him.”

Side note: After more than three years, the officer charged, was given a 45 day jail sentence.  I’ll believe he’ll serve it when I see it.  Ten minutes after the case closed, he was out on bail.

Another man with police problems is John Vroom.  That sounds like a name he picked out for himself when he was eight, but is simply an uncommon variant of an Anglo-Saxon name which now includes Frum, From, Frome, and the owner of a local printing shop, Froome.

I worked, for a while, with Gerry, Bert, and Wally – all women.  Gerry had shortened the archaic Geraldine, Bert had done the same with Roberta, after being named for her dad, Bob, and Wally was a German immigrant named Waltrout.

Hyphenated names came into being in the Middle Ages, when one self-important minor aristocratic family married into another.  Smith married Jones, and became Smith-Jones.  What is overbearingly humorous, is when the compound name becomes Smith-Smith.  It is possible to be born into a hyphenated name but they usually occur nowadays when a certain type of woman gets married.

These gals are usually well educated, and have well-paying careers of their own.  Their families often have money and power.  Sociologically, they are often doers, running this charity or chairing that board.   I had seen a photo in the local paper of nine women, involved with Feed The Aardvarks, or some silly such.  Seven of the nine had hyphenated names.

With my usual humorous social acceptance, I told the young lad I was working with, that they’d got their hyphenated names because they wanted to show that they were powerful, modern women, who could take care of themselves, yet weren’t such ugly, nasty bitches that they couldn’t get a man.  He plaintively protested that his wife had taken a hyphenated name when they married.  Intrigued, I asked him why.

The answer was that, she had written her University paper under her maiden name, and wanted to maintain it, in case anyone wished to contact her later.  Not being one of my favorite co-workers, I told him that there were two problems with that.  Nobody cared in the first place, and nobody cared now.  She took E.C.E., Early Childhood Education.  She was a baby-sitter at a day-care facility.  You don’t need two names to do that.  Nobody’s going to follow up to get your opinion on disposable diapers.

Another male co-worker had been adopted as a baby, taken away from a pair of druggie-drunks, and given his adoptive parents name.  When he turned 21, he managed to locate his birth-father, who had significantly turned his life around.  He loved and respected his foster-parents, but wanted to get to know his bio-dad.  They remembered only the loser from 21 years ago, and raised an outrageous, continuing fuss.  He became so disenchanted, that, when he married, instead of his wife taking his (adoptive) name, he took hers.

We gave our daughter a single, hyphenated first name.  Since we had an extra one lying around, we gave our son three first names, partly to honor my maternal grandfather.  She only uses the first half.  In fact she’s adopted an archaic diminutive.  Son never presents the third name because it’s not needed, and just confuses clerks.  It’s the clan name which, like the above, can be used as a first name.

The most extreme I’ve seen so far is a woman in the paper, with a hyphenated first….and last, name.  She’s Marie-Elizabeth Richards-Collinson.  She has to order checks as big as Publisher’s Clearing House, to have room enough to sign.

Charles Dickens’ works are inhabited by a plethora of strangely-named people.  Fortunately few of these names seem to have crossed the Atlantic, and have mostly died out in England.  The English still have strange, multiple-lettered names which they can spell – but not pronounce.  James Bond once pretended to be a Mr. Saint John-Smith, which he insisted was pronounced sin-jin-smythe.  Featherstonehaugh becomes either festun-haw, or fanshaw.  Pemberton shrinks in the wash to become pembun, and Chumondeley is pronounced Chumly.

Out at the edge of town, near a plant nursery I sometimes take the wife to, is a mailbox with the name Hawthornthwaite on it.  Some day I’m going to work up the nerve to leave the wife spending money on gardening supplies, and walk up and ask just how they pronounce it.

I’ve still got some strange names lying around.  Any of you guys got some weird ones you want to trade?

Name That Occupation

Since I did a post about what’s in a name, I decided to do another about names, from a different perspective.  In my preoccupation with word meanings and etymology (history), I once made the unfounded claim that English surnames which ended in “er” were descriptions of what ancestors did for a living.  While mainly true, there are a few which aren’t.

Thayer (or Tayer) means descendant of an Anglo-Saxon lord named Theodoric.  He gave his name to the Thay (Tay) river in the south of Scotland, so a Thayer was anyone who lived within its catchment.  The name Newcomer, mostly shortened to Newcomb, is obvious.

Since few people are as fascinated with the language as I am, I am not surprised that folks often don’t know the history and meanings of words they (mis)use every day.  I am somewhat surprised that so few people know the origins of their family name.  When the census-takers for the Domesday Book came around in the late 11th century, what people did for a living often became their identification.

Language, spelling and technology drift have often concealed to modern folk, how their distant relatives made a buck….or a thruppence.  Baker and Fisher are still obvious.  A Bower bowed to his betters, because he was a general servant.  A Bowyer, on the other hand, was in the lord’s militia.  Bowman is the more modern equivalent, without the “er”.  While we’re playing with bows and arrows, Archer shot them, and (Jessica) Fletcher put the feathers on them.

A Walker walked/trod on soaking newly woven cloth, to felt (thicken) it.  A Turner ran a woodworking lathe.  A Parker maintained the lord’s park, and a Palmer had been a pilgrim to the Holy Land (palm trees).  Coopers originally fabricated small crates like pigeon coops, or chicken coops.  Later they specialized in cylinders with curved sides, and became barrel-makers.

Chandlers started by making/selling candles.  When sea-faring trade grew, ships required many candles, and those who provided them branched out to providing all things needed for ocean voyages, and the name Chandler came to mean “ship provisioner.”

People sometimes ask if a butler, buttles.  The king who ordered the Domesday census was French, and some English names came from French.  Originally, a butler was a “bouteillier”, the wine steward.  As the job expanded, he became a gentleman’s gentleman. Frankly, Rhett wouldn’t have given a damn.  That same linguistic drift has turned the likes of the Anglo-Saxon Farnsworth, into the frog Phaneuf.

At a meeting of the Kitchener council, some years ago, a suggestion was made that a particularly thorny problem be referred to Weaver, Tanner and Miller.  One of the dimmer lights on the council objected to letting “a bunch of tree-hugging artisans” have a look at private city business.  Someone had to explain that they were a well-known and respected consulting firm.  It’s just that their ancestors wove cloth, made leather, and ground grain, respectively.

Tanner’s cousin, Cordwainer, made specialty Cordovan leather, and like the Chandler expansion above, decided to make shoes from it.  A cordovaner became a shoe-maker named Cordwainer.  His partner, Cobbler, has almost as rare a name.

There are many occupation names which don’t end in “er.”  A Wright was someone who fabricated something; therefore the description is playwright, not playwrite.  Wrightson was his kid.  A wagon maker was a Wainwright, and Little Joe Cartwright made little carts.  Carter was the guy who was the medieval FedEx, making quick deliveries in his small, agile vehicle.

Like our neighbors, the Wrights, we Smiths produced things too.  I am happy that, as a minor writer and language-lover, I can describe myself as a wordsmith.  The family names Goldsmith and Silversmith came into being, but are reserved almost exclusively for Jews.  In direct opposition to the Chandlers, our job scale reduced until the only Smiths were the guys pounding on hot iron.

One reason the name Smith is so common is that every city, town and village, no matter how small, had a guy wielding Thor’s hammer.  Another reason is that semi-literate immigration officials, faced with a name with 27 consonants and no vowels, just put down SMITH.  An ethnic-Chinese co-worker, with a 17 letter Cambodian name, had a Customs official tell him, “Your name is long,” so he opened bank accounts and got a job under the name Long.

My name Smith came from the Anglicizing of Schmidt, but, before spelling rules became quite so rigid, Smidt, Smit, and Schmit also existed.  They all came from the Middle-German name Schmeid, which carried the connotation of heavy fabricator, a blacksmith rather than a shoemaker.  Not surprisingly, its partner, the German name Bender, means light fabricator.  The forebears of the actor Michael Fassbender were Master Fabricators.

What about you, my gentle readers?  Do you have, or do you know anyone with, an occupation name?  Have you ever thought about it?