Something pretty special happened to me this past weekend, and it was so special, that I almost didn’t notice it happened. I finally received a bona-fide tramp name. Bones christened me “Captain”.
When he first started calling me “Captain”, I must have dismissed it in my mind because – over the years – many friends have given me many one-off nicknames that never really took. And none of those names were ever given to me during a trip. But reflecting back on this past weekend, it occurred to me today that this was a tramp name.
The Tradition of Tramp Nicknames
Almost every nomad I’ve seen in film and documentaries, and those I’ve met in person has had a tramp nickname. For that matter, so have most of the haunters and punks I know – Bones himself, included.
Before I left on the North American Road Trip, I thought long and hard about adopting my own nickname. Even then, I knew the tradition is to receive your nickname from someone else. But July 2017 marked the beginning of a new life for me. I had sold my home, quit my job, and was hitting the road. I wanted a fresh new name to go with the full package, rather than wait an unknown number of months to receive a nickname from someone else. Plus, I didn’t want to be stuck with something idiotic. If I was going to be stuck with a nickname, I wanted it to be something I could live with.
I eventually settled on “Echo”, but like so many other nicknames I received over the years, it never really stuck.
Now that Bones has given me a nickname, I understand why it’s better to receive one than to make up your own. Even though I would never have picked “Captain” for myself, it means so much more to me than “Echo” ever did. I feel sentimental toward this nickname. I feel honored. Loved. It was given to me by someone I’m close to and care about. I’m proud of this nickname, and pleased to finally have a proper one at long last.