What's in a Name?

Identifying Personal Property

We all know what it's like to hover over the luggage belt at the airport. We wait ... and ...watch ... and finally we see it - that battered piece of blue Samsonite with the black scuff mark on the bottom.

We grab the bag from the belt. Surprisingly, it's heavier than remembered. A quick flip of the identification tag reveals an unfamiliar name. How could that scuff mark betray us, leaving someone else's suitcase in our hands?

Luckily, most people have the foresight to tag their bags, avoiding confusion of mix-ups. But for some odd reason, skate owners practice negligence in this area. Why is it that an expensive pair of skates doesn't merit identification, while a shoddy piece of underwear- filled luggage does?

Skate sharpeners far and wide grapple with this question. To them, it's beyond reason to leave a pair of unidentified, slightly worn, black leather hockey skates in a shop with 145 other pairs of unidentified, slightly worn, black leather hockey skates, even if they do need sharpening.

The reality is that people do just that. They hand over their skates (or their sons' or daughters' skates) to a busy sharpener. Then they come back later planning to identify their property by the orange juice stain on the laces.

Now, there is a problem with this approach. Fourteen other laces have orange juice stains, five flaunt orange popsicle splotches, a two boast smears of orange sherbet. When plunked side by side, these skates may as well be 21 pieces of tagless blue Samsonite with black scuff marks on the bottom.

So skates get lost, or they get doled out to some other kid with the same size feet, and similar eating habits. All this confusion is caused by one simple, stubborn action - refusing to affix one's name on one's property.

And don't think skate sharpeners enjoy their customers' dilemmas. On the contrary. It's the sharpeners who get blamed for lost skates. And it's the sharpeners who must play goalie to a barrage of hard hitting remarks, such as "Now you have to buy me new skates!" or "Howja like your ticket punched?"

After endless seasons of handling nameless skates some skate sharpeners tried the coat check method. Tags were issued for each pair of skates entering the shop, with half of the tag remaining on the skate, and the other half safely in the grasp of the customer.

That sort of works, until the skate owners arrive for pickup with excuses for lost tags: "Gee, I must have left it at home," or "Gosh, maybe it's in my other coat."

With it's built-in mistakes, the coat check method could not be counted on. Today, dull-bladed, nameless skates still appear in piles on skate sharpeners' counters. Meanwhile, the sharpeners continue to wear goalie pads to fend off the angry words of customers whose skates are lost in the pile.

Fortunately, most sharpeners get their goalie pads free. They find them unclaimed and unidentified in change rooms after hockey practices.

Tips for identifying skates

To avoid the disappointment of misplacing or losing skates, skate sharpeners suggest marking them using one of the following methods:

  • With permanent marker, write your name on the inside of the boot above the ankle, or on the outside bottom of the boot.
  • If the inside of the boot is black, paint a small area with white paint. Then write your name in the painted area.
  • Etch your name with an electric pencil on the blades. If desired, the etching can be rubbed with a marker.
  • Use a "Lace Tag" which you actually attach to your skate with your laces. Lace tags are available in stores, or you can make your own from a piece of hard plastic.

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