Lifesaving lanyard tales
A basic nylon or polyester cord looped around the neck and fitted with a hook or clip. For years, the lanyard has been seen as a simple accessory, fun to wear but nothing more than that. The reality is so much more. Slowly people have begun to step forward, telling their stories that have revealed what the lanyard truly is: an absolute lifestyle necessity. We interviewed some of these brave warriors about their life-changing lanyard experiences.
1. The careless coach
Since he could remember, coaching the first team rugby side had been Carl’s dream. But there was a darker side to coaching that Carl didn’t sign up for.
“Everyone knows that ‘a whistle is the best assistant coach’ and without it, the field just becomes mayhem,” explained the 37-year-old father-of-two. “But my problem was I kept losing the blasted things. I tried everything. Luminous whistles; leaving them in high-traffic areas; I was even starting to buy them in bulk from a guy on the roadside. Nothing worked.”
Eventually the expenses starting piling up. Carl was spending hundreds of rands each month on whistles, and his marriage was bearing the strain.
“Carol said this was it. I either needed to find a solution, or she was taking the kids and going. I was beside myself.”
And then it happened. Carl noticed the other coaches were wearing the whistles around their necks.
“I asked the student coach, Pete, ‘what is that thing?’. He was so kind, he just took the lanyard off his neck and gave it to me. I’ve never looked back. In fact, now my whole family wears them. Truly life-changing.”
2. The overlooked office clerk
Ben had been working at [name withheld] for four years. His position as the general office lackey wasn’t exactly soul destroying, but it certainly not a position to which anyone aspired. Re-filling printer paper, changing the coffee filters and cleaning the urinals after the annual office party were some of his roles, but nobody ever assumed there was a marketing genius in their midst.
“I was busy pouring coffee for some big wigs from [name withheld] marketing firm in the main conference room, and they were discussing the best way to get the company name out into the public,” said the 23-year-old Pinetown local. “They needed something edgy but useful. Something that would get the company’s message across in a fun and unique way.”
As Ben recalls, the meeting went on for hours. Possibly even days. He couldn’t take it anymore, so he mustered all the courage he could find and blurted out one word: ‘lanyards!’ When the mastery of this suggestion was fully understood, the applause could be heard three rooms away. This – before unheard of – marketing tool was the most successful in the company’s history. ‘Big Ben’ – as he’s now known – was quickly promoted to chief marketing strategist, and has never looked back.
3. The swift security guard
Jerry’s cubicle was 10 metres away from the front door of a prestigious Cape Town retirement village where he worked as a security guard. Entrance and exit to the cubicle required the use of a security card, and the same was needed for access to the front door. He dreaded visitors arriving at the door because they would, inevitably, become irate at the length of time it took to get them through the front door. It was an excessively time-consuming ordeal that required Jerry to open his wallet, search for the security card, remove the security card, swipe it across the cubicle exit pad, open the door, walk the 10 metres to the front door, swipe the door exit pad and open the door. If Jerry misplaced his wallet – something which happened often – the procedure could take twice as long.
But there was something Jerry dreaded more than visitors, and that was the early morning delivery of the Sunday newspaper. To ensure the subscribed readers got their news intake first thing, the delivery guys would race to various estates and buzz the respective guards at 5am. Unfortunately for Jerry, he was never fast enough to open the door and the retirement residents – most of whom awoke at 5am – had to wait a whole hour until the second newspaper run.
When the grandson of the retirement village’s oldest resident heard of Jerry’s ordeal, he bought the kindly guard a lanyard.
“It changed my life,” said the elated Jerry. “With the security pass around my neck, I save vital minutes and can finally get to the Sunday papers in time. You should have seen the looks on those delivery guys’ faces. Just amazing.”
4. The quick-acting secretary
Working in a big office can be a logistical nightmare for management, having to monitor staff progress, sick leave, holiday pay and numerous other employee-related issues. Judy, secretary to the senior business assistant manager, had always prided herself on her organisational skills which were quite top notch. Sure, she’d forgotten to pay 320 staff bonuses one year and she wasn’t entirely certain whether she’d booked her boss on a flight to Istanbul or India next week, but, overall, she was really on top of things.
“Probably the most important part of my job is the weekly cake roster,” said Judy, sitting on the brink of a well-deserved retirement. “Every staff member is assigned a week to bring in a cake or treats of some sort. Well it really just boosts office morale. I mean, who doesn’t like cake? The schedule is drawn up and I send a reminder to the selected staff member on the Tuesday before. Cake day is always Wednesday.”
But one fateful Tuesday, the unthinkable happened. The system crashed.
“It was mayhem,” recalled Judy. “People were running around panicked. Who was supposed to bring in cake tomorrow? We were at our wits’ end.”
Luckily for all 320 staff members, Judy always keeps the schedule backed up on her trusty flashdrive. “I’m a forgetful sort which is why I keep my flashdrive connected to my lanyard which I wear around my neck. Within minutes I was able to locate the schedule and send Jim a reminder before 5. People had lost most of their work in the crash so cake day was really important that week. Thank goodness for my lanyard.”
5. One direction
For his 21st birthday, Larry received a really super compass from his grandmother. Feeling that something so useful was wasted sitting at home, Larry invested in a good quality lanyard, attaching the compass securely around his neck.
“People would often ask me, ‘Larry, why do you have a compass? Just use Google Maps.’ But, you know, Google Maps isn’t always that accurate.”
It was his cousin’s bachelor’s party when the lanyard-held compass truly proved its worth. Held at a music concert, there had been much merriment with chaps drinking and laughing and such. Larry was often able to join in the banter although, for the most part, he just couldn’t keep up with this rowdy lot. Sometime between the opening and headline acts, the group realised they were out of beer and would need to head back to the bus to re-stock. But they soon discovered they couldn’t remember where the party bus was parked.
“One of the guys figured it was in a westerly direction, but that’s all we knew,” said Larry.
Unfortunately for the group, rules of the day stated no cellphones, which meant no Google Maps. “I immediately looked down at my compass and told them exactly which way we needed to go,” he said jubilantly. “There was some muttering about ‘using the sun’ to tell the direction, but, you know, the sun isn’t always that accurate.”
So, with Larry’s trusty lanyard and compass, the group managed to locate the bus, re-stock and continue with what ended up being a pretty good bachelor’s party.
*These stories are possibly based on potentially real events.