I’m Batman

  • Jeff Gibbard
  • 8 min read

Without a doubt, the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten came from a small sandwich shop in Philadelphia called Paesano’s.

Everything about this sandwich shop is over-the-top. The sandwiches are an edible manifestation of my everything my wildest imagination would conjure as a “husky” 9-year old.

Right here, officer. This was the sandwich that ruined all other sandwiches for me.

Recently, I had my parents over for dinner and decided to indulge in the tasty goodness of Paesano’s. We call and put in a sizable order, complete with 4 sandwiches plus an extra sandwich to split, two orders of Arancini, and an order of smoked mozzarella sticks.

She asks…

What’s the name for the order?

I respond…

Batman.

This post is not about sandwiches.

Are you really the Dark Knight?

I picked up my parents and headed over to Paesano’s but we were running a little late.

I find a parking spot one block away. It’s the size of a postage stamp and in a single move I maneuver my mid-sized SUV into it. I keep the engine running for my parents, and dash off to pick up my sandwiches.

As soon as I walked in, I could feel the eyes fixated on me. The woman behind the counter was grinning and her eyes whispered with curiosity.

I approached the counter.

I’m picking up an order for Batman.

The grin became a full smile and she replied “we’ve been waiting for you Batman. The chef would like to meet you.”

I turn to see the chef walking out with his hand extended.

We chatted for a bit and he let me know that he’d thrown in an extra sandwich for me. As I was paying, I was offered “an espresso for the road.” I gladly accepted.

This post is not about free food.

Cold Brew for Jeff!

The first time I remember giving the name Batman on an order was at Starbucks. I had just spoken with a friend of mine about how they always spell her name wrong and how frustrating it was. As I stood in line, I glanced around at the chaotic morning rush, and I wondered, how many Jeff’s are waiting for a cold brew right now. So when I was asked my name, despite wanting to say Spider-Man, I opted for Batman. It’s easy to spell, no hyphen to worry about, and everyone loves Batman, so I was sure it would go over well.

As I waited for my drink to be called, I wondered what would happen.

  • Would they smile or roll their eyes?
  • Would they say it softly or shout it out?

I patiently waited and then it happened. A smile crept across her face, and the barista shouted out: BATMAN!

It was at that moment that I knew what I had to do. I darted up to the counter and leaned in to softly proclaim, “shh, be careful, I have enemies everywhere.”

She laughed, nodded, and wished me good luck protecting Gotham.

This post is not about Batman.

Pinch the head, suck the tail

  • What I hate about Houston: It’s HOT.
  • What I love about Houston: they have crawfish, and I have family down there.

I’m no fan of Texas but I am always willing to head down there to see family and eat at Crawfish and Noodles (”Crawfish and Noods” to the locals). I’ll never forget my first time. I heard the words crawfish AND noodles and that was all I needed. I’d heard enough.

CALL THE UBER!

The thing is, this is a popular spot so when we got there and saw the long line, I panicked.

  • What if they ran out of crawfish?!
  • What if no one sent me noods?!

I decided that I would be the one to put our name in. It’s a story for another time, but I’m very good at manifesting a table. Call it influence, call it persuasion, or just call it the dark arts, but I have a knack for turning an hour and a half wait into “something just opened up.”

I approach the host table and smile.

Good evening, my family raves about this place and it is my first time. I’m super jazzed. How long is the wait?

They tell me it’s going to be anywhere from 45 minutes to a little over an hour.

Great! Where do I sign up?

They ask for a name. By now, you know what I said.

Batman.

I’ll cut to the chase. We were at our table for a party of 10 within 30 minutes and I left with 3 free t-shirts (which I tried to buy — for the record).

When I got back to Philadelphia, donning my new Crawfish and Noodles t-shirt, I posted an Instagram story and tagged them. This was their reply.

This post is not about free t-shirts.

So, let me tell you what it is about.

I hope they remember you

When I started giving the name Batman when picking up my food or coffee, I started noticing a few things.

It made people smile.

In virtually all of our jobs, and even our lives outside of work, things can start to become monotonous. We drive the same way to and from work, interact with the same people, and eat at the same restaurants. The repetition makes time fly by…and not in a good way.

Those few precious moments where something unique happens to us, something interesting, something worth talking about, is a gift we often fail to appreciate. In a sea of Jeffs, Johns, Ericas, Sarahs and others, giving the name Batman meant I stuck out, I interrupted the pattern.

I’ve noticed that even this act, perhaps the smallest and least consequential decision to step outside of the obvious, is usually enough to get someone to smile.

People remembered me

Not everyone responds to the Batman thing overwhelmingly positively. But everyone, even the sarcastic ones would remember me.

In a sea of Jeffs, Johns, Ericas, Sarahs and others, I stood alone…a symbol, a watchful guardian, a Dark Knight. Nearly everywhere I’ve ever given the name Batman, I’m welcomed back with a familiar…

“nice to see you again, Mr. Wayne.”

Become Something More

Today is not about getting you to call yourself Obi-Wan Kenobi at Chipotle. It’s not about annoying service workers in hopes of getting free stuff. It is however a lesson about Brand, and it’s a call to think about how you change the world around you.

As your matter moves through space, physically, emotionally, and intellectually colliding with others, you have no choice but to alter the path of matter around you. You cannot help but change the world. This post is just pointing that out and then asking you to think about it.

While changing the name on your Starbucks cup is unlikely to address the serious problems we face as a society and a species on spaceship Earth, even small things can still matter. If you want to make a dent in the world, it helps if people remember who you are, and it helps if they like you.

So, should you choose to apply this lesson more broadly in your life, here are the underlying points…

Make it easy. Make it fun. Don’t make it cumbersome.

I didn’t make my name John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. That’s just asking for spit in my flat white.

Instead, I made the name Batman. It’s simple and it’s fun. It’s also remarkably on brand for me.

Don’t over-complicate it. Keep it simple, keep it respectful, and if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

Find an open space. If there is none, create it.

If you walk into Starbucks and everyone is rattling off members of the Avengers, using your own, given name can be a revolutionary act. Standing out is about finding open space or creating it.

Don’t take my word for it.

If I haven’t convinced you of the lesson yet, then I’ll let one of the most bad-ass people to grace this planet say it better.

You live but once: You might as well be amusing. – Coco Chanel

In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different – Coco Chanel

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