Car names and your job title

Aug. 1, 2005
My wife’s car has a name. The bright orange Volkswagen is Clementine, Clemmy for short.

My wife’s car has a name. The bright orange Volkswagen is Clementine, Clemmy for short. Clemmy is a new car. Clementine is parked right beside the kitchen door in the garage. Clementine fulfills a lifelong dream of my wife to own and drive a “Bug” (Beetle). My youngest son drives Henry Honda, an Accord. Hopefully, the late actor is not rolling over in his grave, or the Fonda descendants are not too upset.

As a parent-slash-taxi driver who carted kids around for years, my wife drove several minivans before embracing the much smaller Clemmy. I drive the last of the family minivans, a Honda Odyssey. It is, uh, referred to as Rhonda.

The family dogs have been much more fortunate with their name ceremonies - Stella, Seattle, and Theo. Maybe the fact those cars can’t bite or bark has something to do with it.

My oldest son recently purchased his first car - a Volkswagen Jetta. He scowled ferociously when his mother began the naming process. Her top two choices were Henryetta and Bennie. The former refers to a nearby town (where Troy Aikman, the former professional quarterback, played high school football). The latter apparently is a salute to one of Sir Elton John’s songs, Bennie and the Jets.

My son then moved far away, to Madison, Wis. But I must know at least a half-dozen dental hygienists in Madison, and I have a feeling one of them will ask him how Bennie/Henryetta is doing.

My daughter has a license and drives, but does not have her own car. A car would be nice, but I think she is just mortified at the thought of what would happen. I envision her sitting around with her high school pals: “Oh, my gosh! You won’t believe what my mother did (rolls eyes mournfully). She named my car.”

I wish to offer some comfort to dental hygienists everywhere. My wife seldom reads RDH (she works in the administrative offices of a local high school and has no need to read the magazine.).

There is a whole lot of potential for new names in the dental hygiene profession, and she won’t be involved.


Neither will I, for that matter.


But I did sit through a discussion titled, “Focus on Advancing the Profession,” during the recent American Dental Hygienists’ Association in Las Vegas. Actually, one name is already somewhat familiar to most of us - advanced dental hygiene practitioner (ADHP). But the ADHA states as one of its aims: “Create multiple levels of clinical dental hygiene practitioners with representative titles and appropriate levels of education and degrees ... Change the title ‘dental hygienist’ to reflect the expanding roles and responsibilities of the profession.”

Please don’t think I’m equating my wife’s zaniness with the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. I was actually quite impressed with the association’s initiatives. They took some raw ideas generated in 2002 and came up with a very feasible game plan. A whole bunch of ADHA members and staffers deserve a very nice pat on the back.

But you need to closely examine the association’s “Future of Dental Hygiene” project, regardless of whether you are an ADHA member or not. The fine print could have a direct impact on your career. You could become very happy very soon. You may be allowed to duck the specter of burnout and find an enriching way to feel even better than you ever dreamed possible about what you do for a living. Or you may be daunted by some challenges that the profession is laying out in front of you ... like getting enrolled in a college for another degree. You may not desire that sort of bureaucratic imposition.

You need to check this out. Visit the ADHA’s Web site at and reach your own conclusions about what this project means for you, as well as the profession. This is a time when an open discussion about the direction of dental hygiene is mandatory. One of the presenters in Las Vegas recalled the last time the ADHA proposed such a sweeping initiative. It was in 1985, and the presenter lamented the fact the initiative kind of withered on the vine because of apathy.

I agree with her declaration that we can’t let that happen this time. I don’t think it will because the profession is much stronger than it was 20 years ago. But you still need to maintain a high level of awareness about the ADHA’s proposal.

And you can speculate on the name of a dream job title for yourself. My wife and I will be mum on the subject, I promise.

Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH. He can be contacted at [email protected].