Posted by: Brad Nixon | April 29, 2017

Stinking Badges!

Do you wear a badge? I do when I attend meetings of some groups I belong to:

badges Brad Nixon 6939 (640x480)

At one group, we got new badges last week (superior badge fastening technology with a magnet on the back instead of pins or clips).

Naturally, one of the members said it: “We don’t need no stinking badges.”

I have something to say about that classic movie line a little later.

I’ve worn a lot of badges over the years, probably starting with Cub Scouts, then in various clubs, not to mention scores (or hundreds) of stick-on “Hello, My Name Is” things at meetings and conferences.

name badge Brad Nixon 6942 (640x440)

Once I joined the corporate world, put on a suit and reported for work in an office building, the badge thing got more serious, with multiple employee and contractor badges at the companies and agencies I’ve worked for.

In 16 years at my last employer of record (prior to my current employer, me) I had not only several successive company badges, but an untold number of temporary badges issued to me at facilities around the world where I worked on assignment.

The badge technology ranged from write-on paper badges, engraved metal ones to plastic with electronic tracking technology embedded in them. For one day, I wore a NASA badge when I was shooting a video about one of my company’s teams supporting the Hubble Space Telescope. Cool! I had to give it back, though.

Top Secret

Perhaps my most memorable badge-related experience occurred at one of the offices where my company supported another U.S. federal government agency, one dealing with extremely proprietary, sensitive information. I was there to conduct some video interviews and was given a badge printed on some heavy paper. The paper and ink were sensitive to body heat, and after a few hours the ink would fade out, rendering the badge useless, even if one absconded with it!

Waiting for the crew to finish setting up, I’d taken off the suit jacket to which my badge was clipped. I blithely stepped into the hall to get a drink of water or something, sans badge. Here’s some advice: Do not wander around a highly secure government office without your badge. Immediately, the first person I encountered — not a security guard, simply one of the staff — asked me who in the heck I was and where was my badge. I retreated to my assigned room. It was serious business. I needed a stinking badge, or there would, indeed, be security personnel on hand in a flash.

Stinking Badges Onscreen

In all probability, you know that line, “We don’t need no stinking badges” from Mel Brooks’ 1974 movie, “Blazing Saddles.” You may be aware, though, that Brooks was parodying a line from the 1948 John Huston film, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Confronted by bandits who identify themselves as the police, Humphrey Bogart asks, “If you are the police, where are your badges?”

The bandit replies, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges! We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!”

It never occurred to me to reply that way to the gentleman who challenged me in that hallway some ten years ago. If I had, I might be getting out of federal prison just about now.

But Wait, There’s More

In the process of fact-checking this post, I found two things I didn’t know about that line, courtesy of the website This Day in Quotes.

The lines originated not in Huston’s film but in the 1927 novel on which it was based, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, by a fascinating, elusive writer known as B. Traven. The Day in Quotes website link above provides the book’s original lines, which are similar to the film version, but with language I avoid using in Under Western Skies blog posts.

Even more interesting, though, is the fact that another bit of filmed entertainment mimicked the lines, seven years before Mel Brooks did. It was a television show, not a film: none other than the rollicking, madcap adventures of The Monkees. Thanks to This Day in Quotes, I now know something else I missed in not watching every episode of that timeless series.

Now you have a choice. The next time you invoke some version of that “We don’t need no stinking ______,” you might be imitating a novel, a dramatic film classic, taking off on the humor of Mel Brooks, or channeling your inner Mickey Dolenz.

I leave it up to you. Do you wear a badge? High tech or low tech? Leave a comment.

Please refer to This Day in Quotes for links to the films and more details.

© Brad Nixon 2017. I gratefully acknowledge the information provided by “This Day in Quotes” cited above.


  1. Hi Brad, at my current employer (which you know well) my badge photo has not changed in 16 years even though the physical substrate has on occasion as building access technology has been updated. I have sometimes come across wrinklier grey-haired colleagues who bear only a passing resemblance to their junior smooth-complexioned selves which gives me pause for thought. Best regards, Mark

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the next time you see someone in the hallway wearing a badge with a photo that doesn’t look at all like them, you should challenge them and conduct them to the security office. That’ll win you some friends.


  2. Great piece, Mr. Nissan! I retired and therefore graduated from badges to name tags. Social events are serious business, though. Our neighborhood progressive dinner is the place to meet new neighbors and get to know the old ones (e.g., me) better. So the name tags are important, especially because many of us are downright old (e.g., me), and can’t see or remember anything. I volunteered to make the readable-AND-attractive name tags. Remind me not to volunteer for that again next year. Nevermind, I won’t take your advice anyway.


    • I mean, I never take anyone’s advice. If I did, I would take yours.

      Liked by 1 person

    • We may have been wearing badges the first time we met. After that, we were bandmates, and musicians DEFINITELY do not need stinking badges.


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