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Published: Monday, September 5, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Norman Mannhalter: Security in his name

He's aptly suited to be a Port of Edmonds security supervisor

  • Norman Mannhalter is the security supervisor at the Port of Edmonds. Fellow port employee Kevin Danberg helps him demonstrate his abilities at a fence...

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald

    Norman Mannhalter is the security supervisor at the Port of Edmonds. Fellow port employee Kevin Danberg helps him demonstrate his abilities at a fence where he frequently stops trespassers.

Q: How did your name direct your career path?
A: You know, I can't say that it did. When I was high school age and thinking of my options I was interested in law. I took law in high school in an extended program, and I found it fascinating. Got out of high school in the 1970s and was rebellious. I weighed teacher or lawyer, and thought I would strike out on my own.
So I jumped around jobs and landed a job in a private detective agency, did surveillance and was called a floor walker in downtown Seattle. And what a zoo. At the time I was an adrenaline junkie so that fit right into what I wanted.
When the company went out of state I went to work for Sears doing the same thing and then I started hearing comments about my name.
I did repo for a while, and I'm not saying my days of adrenalin fixes are gone, but I always went back to this field I was most comfortable with: protection and security.
Q: Would you change your name if you could, and why or why not?
A: When I was a kid probably because of the teasing. Oh, they would call me "Manhandler" because of the frozen food commercial that was so popular and "Madhatter," and "Maneater" because of the song. I was always getting picked on because of my name, but now I think my name makes me who I am, and I'm proud of my parents and my father, and I wouldn't change it for anything.
Q: If you could choose another career, what would it be?
A: When I was right out of high school I wanted to be a professional bowler. I've been a good scratch bowler, but realized I didn't have the discipline, and I hate to practice. I realized bowlers like me are a dime a dozen, and even if I was a professional bowler they are not high money-makers.
I've bowled two 300 scores and I've gotten one hole in one, that's the legacy I'll leave my children. Not much, but it's what I've got. Ha!
I've been bowling with a woman, Flo, who is 83 and been bowling with her for 20 years. It's a mixed league and nobody takes it seriously. But she's 83 with a 160 average. I hope to just be standing upright at that age.
Q: How do you know when someone has picked up on the fact that your name is an aptonym?
A: When they start making fun of me. But hey, if you can't take it, don't dish it out.
Q: How do people react to the combination of your name and job? Do they get it? Any funny stories as a result?
A: My partner one day when I was walking the floor said after I chased a guy down, "You really halted that one." And the shoplifter was like, "Huh?" My partner told him, "His name is Mannhalter." The shoplifter, he got it, though it wasn't funny to him.
Also, back when I was catching shoplifters in my 20s, I was feeling frisky, and I would give my partner a chuckle when I would scream "Halt!" when I was stopping a shoplifter, and my partner would start laughing and the shoplifter would be like, they knew I stole something, so why are these guys laughing?
What's an aptonym?
It's a name aptly suited to its owner. Read more stories about apt names at
About this series
The word is "aptonym."
It refers to people whose name suggests key attributes of their jobs, professions or lives. Their names might have, in fact, influenced their lives or careers.
It's no surprise that The Herald has found lots of these people living in our area. They are vital members of the community, as well as being good sports for playing along.
So for the third summer and for the next several weeks, we're profiling our local aptonyms. If you happen to know an aptonym or are one yourself, send the name to
Story tags » Human Interest

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