I was in Haiti at the time. I was in the Army at the time. We were protecting relief workers following the Port au Prince Earthquake. There was an interpreter (as they speak Creole). I was holding back a large crowd, and they were a little rowdy (it was hot, lines were long, etc).
I needed to speak to someone, so I needed an interpreter. I called out "Terp!"; which was a term I had learned to use in Iraq. I think I might have snapped it towards Charles, but he definitively knew I meant him. He came over, and helped me translate.
Later on he asked me not to call him 'terp'. His name was Charles (and I knew that). It was just one of those moments, that really meant something to me. I had defined him by his job, which would have been as bad as to define him by his race. I had essentially reduced him from being a person to a thing, to the interpreter for my squad.
Instantly, Charles came to life. He wasn't just the interpreter, he was Charles, and a person. Since then, I've tried my hardest to never define anyone by any one aspect of their character (less I have no choice), and to know them by their names and who they are, rather than just my simple perception of the world.