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M Like Mary. . .But That’s Not It

December 18, 2013

Microsoft was making us get new ID badges. With tens of thousands of employees in the Puget Sound area, the ID badge makers took their show on the road. One day the van showed up at our location in downtown Bellevue. At lunch we streamed out and stood in line to get a new picture and badge. I was only half listening to the person in front of me give his information to the Badge Maker lady.

First Name?


Last Name?


Middle Initial?

M. . .like Mary. . .But THAT’S NOT IT!

It brightened my whole day. The man in front of me was pretty embarrassed. I’ve tried to think about what profound lessons I learned from that experience so long ago. I’ve tried to draw lessons that I can apply to other areas. After all, the event happened 20 years ago and it’s stuck with me this long, surely there has to be some lesson.

I finally decided it was just a funny exchange. How often do we slip into “automatic” mode? Like the line in the Tim Allen Movie “The Santa Clause” where he asks his son, “Do you know the number to call 911?”

I listened to a motivational speaker one time that our company had brought in. He talked about his first visit to Utah. The mountains here are truly spectacular.

Sunrise Over Mahogany Mountain

He couldn’t believe that people got to look at these everyday. As you might expect after he’d been here a few years he got used to it. He had a friend visit from the East.

The mountains are spectacular! I can’t believe you get to look at them out your kitchen window every day!

It was a wakeup call to stop sleep walking through his life, to look around at wonder that surrounds us. Think about the first time you fell in love with your partner. Do you look at them the same way? Think about how excited you were to get that great job, how you could hardly believe they were hiring you! Do you still feel that way?

Think about the first time you saw the mountain of Utah. If you haven’t seen then, you could come visit. Especially in the winter they are great. If you ski, even better.

Mount Timpanogos an hour before sunset

Live your life in such a way that when someone asks you a question as seemingly mundane as “What’s your middle initial,” you don’t find yourself answering by rote.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children. His middle initial is M, but not like Mary.

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