What’s in a name? More specifically, what’s in a nickname?
Almost everyone here at Sealevel has been given a nickname of some sort and many departments carry their own nicknames as well. A nickname can be a bit of a volatile subject as it can be depicted as either a form of ridicule or symbol of acceptance. Yet, having participated in some type of athletic activity for the majority of my life, it has been my experience that nicknames are most often applied in a harmless manner that either accentuates one’s talents, physical appearance, character or place of origin, or it is used simply as word-play of one’s name.
The Sealevel Sales/Support department is often referred to as “The Tree House.” Obviously, it is one of only a couple of departments located on the second floor of our building. Within the tree house, we have had some classic nicknames work their way through this department; Tony “The Wrestler” Roessler is your current east coast sales representative; he is the silver-tongued master of sales and office pranks. Thankfully, we have yet to reach the point of hand-to-hand combat or cage matches in the Tree House. Representing the mid-west side of the continent, we have Gene “Big Geezy” Hall throwin’ down R9s and droppin’ jalapenos like they’re hot. Whether you need a single board computer or some tear-jerking hot peppers, the Big Geezy has got you covered. The Big Geezy, much like The Wrestler, is a true sales professional and he is very generous with his garden vegetables as well. Also, we have Will “The Thrill” Rostron at your service in the support department along with “Double-B,” Mr. Bryan Buchanan; I suppose those nicknames are both easily deciphered as they involve simple word-play.
Ah, the Engineering department; there have been many wonderful nicknames bestowed upon this eccentric group. These guys spend hours upon hours staring at code and CAD drawings, so they typically possess a uniqueness not found within the average person. On the hardware side, we have a multi-talented gentleman by the name of Jeff “The Eagle” Hunter. However, his talents are not for hunting endangered species (the government tends to frown upon that), unless you refer to Eagles on the golf course as “endangered,” which they likely are when Jeff laces up the spikes. And then we have Frank “Fraaank” Phelps, he is our Senior Software Engineer. Frank has the unique distinction of being known simply as “Fraaank,” it is both his first name and his nickname; I would compare the use of it to that of “Norm” from Cheers – you simply exaggerate the vowel for full effect. Frank is very well respected throughout Sealevel Systems and it has been said that he has likely forgotten more about software than most people will ever know.
The Production/Shipping department is where nicknames are a way of life; I have spent many years working side-by-side with these folks, so I know this is the origin of most nicknames throughout the building. To begin, we have a shipping specialist by the name of Patrick “Action Jackson” Jackson. Patrick has never met a stranger and he was a heck of an athlete in his prime; he’s still got a little left in the tank as well. He is managed by Brandon “Ole B” Maddox, a master of coining nicknames among co-workers. On the production end of the floor we have Russell “The Rev” Drake employed as a product specialist/technician. Russell moonlights as a reverend of his own congregation, so he has the pleasure of watching over two flocks. Alongside The Rev, we have Jamie “Little Fella” Gillespie; he’s not even a small guy in stature, but there is something about that nickname that just fits his personality. That’s the beauty of a nickname, you can’t always define its origin, but it can sometimes capture the essence of one’s indefinable qualities.
In my opinion, the inclusion of nicknames adds to the small company, family-like atmosphere from which Sealevel was derived and continues to maintain. They help to create a more personal feel throughout the workplace when used properly as terms of endearment between one another. The use of nicknames helps to create an environment of camaraderie and solidarity within Sealevel Systems, and I am certain that even our President, Tom “Big T” O’Hanlan, would not disagree!