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To the novice, the ID badge might seem a quick and convenient device for conveying identifying information to all observers for the purposes of avoiding a lengthy and repeated dialogue with complete strangers. This is, of course, completely wrong. The real purpose of the ID badge is to ensure that the observer is fully aware that the bearer of the badge is a person of such significance to the proceedings that they are required to wear it. In other words, a labour-saving device for establishing superiority in the social heirarchy.
A good ID badge will gently intimidate and confuse observers, allowing the information contained within to be entirely coincidental. In fact, the more cryptic and technical the information displayed, the higher the apparent social caste of the wearer. Examples include reversal of names, the addition of superflous numbers, the use of gold and silver and, most impressively, a snazzy hologram.
A practised ID badge bearer will consider the prominence of the display position, much in the way an exotic bird displays its plumage in those all-important mating rituals.
If the badge is contained in a cheap plastic wallet and clipped haphazardly to a trouser pocket or shirt lapel, then the bearer is probably a visitor. Observers will instantly know to stop conversations in the canteen, cover sensitive materials on their desk and jump the queue for the fire exit should a blazing inferno occur.
If the badge is incorporated into items of clothing, then the bearer is probably a shop assistant or mechanic. They can then overcharge, misdirect or just totally ignore the non-badge-wearing fraternity with impunity.
If the badge appears to have been written with a black marker on yellow card and has some jolly embellishment, such as a smiley face, then the bearer is probably a volunteer on a hunt for other, usually unwilling, volunteers. Observers can recognise the danger signs and suddenly veer off down disused corridors, pretend to answer the phone even though it didn't ring or, in the most extreme of cases, feign a heart attack as the bearer approaches.
If the badge is printed on plastic, with a photograph and hangs on what appears to be a bath plug chain around the neck, the bearer is probably an engineer or scientist. This type of bearer tends to be found in corridors ostentatiously swiping the badge past handles in an extravagant display of their access privileges. Observers will know that all requests to the bearer will result in a bewildering, bulleted and prioritised list of counter arguments, 15 conflicting recommendations of how to overcome these arguments, and finally the engineer or scientist doing what he damn well wanted to do in the first place.
Recently the art of ID badges has been refined a stage further. The new improved model, known as the business card, allows the donor to assert his superiority remotely and at all times, no longer even requiring his presence.
Ironically, the ultimate goal of ID badge wearers is to become so important they don't need to wear one at all.
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