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Tales from the Work Lulls: Standardized across the world

January 17, 2012

As I wrote in the first article of Tales from the work lulls, I am at Tax Entry training for my firm this week. In contrast to my previous week, filled with late working hours (and including a 12-hour workday on Saturday), everything this week counts as a “work lull.” But I guess that’s kinda the point, since we’re supposed to be meeting people in a collegial (and faux-collegiate) environment.

But, as you all may have been able to tell, since I’m an introvert post-Mormon who blogs on the interwebs about my old religion, I decided to play the game of, “Who’s a Mormon.”

Admittedly, this game really isn’t fun with accountants. When you hear, “From BYU,” the thinking’s done. (I am aware that non-Mormons attend BYU, but…)

But even more interesting is the idea of Mormon radar.

What’s the Mormon Radar?

The idea is simple: there are certain traits endemic to Mormons that make them easy to spot…if you know what you’re looking for. Most posts about Mormon radar focus on statistical correlations or stereotypes about Mormons, but even more interesting is the research that suggests that facial features can help people identify others as Mormon or non-Mormon (although I’ve seen other links that criticize exactly how significantly above chance that facial feature recognition goes).

I’ve written about Mormonism (maybe) having a cultural aspect, and I’ve also played with the idea of a Mormon ethnicity, but usually the unstated (or directly stated, depending on who’s commenting) wrench in the prospect of shared ethnic identity is the fact that, as a missionary-based religion, Mormonism has a diverse membership characteristic-wise.

…so, maybe I can just cop out here and say that maybe there is something to generational Mormons (say, in Utah). Because, not to be scientific or anything, but there’s just something about (Utah?) Mormons that makes me suspect that a random person I’ve met could be one. I’m not even talking about behavior or anything…just something about how the person looks.

Once again, this isn’t anything really scientific. I haven’t even tried to write down in a formal way what “traits” make me suspect people. (I will decline from doing that now or in the near future here as well.)

But needless to say, that’s a thing. At least for me.

And how is this a tale from the work lulls?

Anyway, all I’m saying is that I noticed one guy who had The Look. And then afterward he confirmed (in fact, many times, he did) that he went to BYU. Oh yeah, and his first name was Brigham. So, maybe this isn’t a good case for detective sleuthing since all the information is pretty available.

Anyway, here’s the tale: at lunch I ate with him and some other people he knew (since as an eternal itinerant in these situations, I’ve just been going around from group to group intruding into their knit social tapestries)…and he started talking about how on his mission in Brazil, he remarked that he loved that because McDonald’s was standardized across the world, it was a familiar place no matter where he was.

Immediately in my head were thoughts of correlation…I mean, if I were talking about something standardized across the world, the church would rank almost as highly.

And then I almost said that…only catching myself after I had said enough words to move to the point of awkwardness (but before I had said anything to identify myself as having a Mormon background.) Yeah…so smooth.

One day I’ll be courageous enough to play funny social experiments with Mormons in random places by saying Mormon identifying cultural insider things.

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