There were two things I associated with being an “adult” when I was young. One association was the ubiquitous Starbucks coffee cup (always a caramel macchiato when I began feigning exhaustion and the need for the caffeine drug at the ripe old age of 13) and the ID badge.
Oh man, that ID badge. I longed to have the rectangular self-identification showing a horrible picture, but indicating where I worked.
Living in Newark, New Jersey, specifically the downtown business district, I would always see the workforce come in racing hoards either trekking from Newark Penn Station or parking their cars at my apartment building’s large parking lot.
Around their necks were lanyards with their respective IDs. Or sometimes they were clipped to a shirt or pants pocket or on a dress or skirt. I genuinely couldn’t wait to get my own.
The time came when I started my first internship as a “Science Explorer” at the Newark Museum when I was 16 years old. The only way we could get into the museum and pass security was if we had our IDs. I felt so special bypassing all the museum visitors and having access to the museum “behind the scenes”.
Why was I so infatuated with the ID?
There was an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Robin Sherbatsky, the show’s resident independent career-driven woman, told her ex-boyfriend and eventual final love, that she would be wearing a World Wide News ID badge that time next year.
The ID badge was a symbol of accomplishment. It was a tangible object encompassing a reached goal. The fictional World Wide News was equivalent to maybe a CNN or BBC – working for a major network, a goal for many broadcast journalists.
I think that’s why IDs have always been a big deal for me. When I got my first Newark Museum ID, I was so proud to be part of the museum culture and work for the largest museum in New Jersey.
When I started working for NBC Washington, I would wear my badge visibly when I commuted to work, which was ridiculous. I wore it after working the night shift and meeting up with my already drunk friends at the bar on the weekend. Despite this, I was and still am so proud working for such a well-known network and brand.
So maybe that’s why I love IDs. It meant I reached a goal.