Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Does this happen to you?

Because my family is so visible and active at church most of our hundred or so members know who we are by name.

Unfortunately, that doesn't work the other way around. I cannot count the times I've had long conversations with people who very clearly expect me to recognize them. So I swallow it and pretend that I do, hoping someone will mention their name while I'm nearby or that they'll use it in conversation. More often than not, I leave the scene none the wiser because I don't want to hurt their feelings.

This happened today while I was helping price items for the rummage sale (only came home with a duffle bag for the boys to take to camp, a backpack for Jeremiah next Fall, and three photo albums this time). A lady working across the room from me was making small talk as we worked. She asked me about Gary and the boys and I answered her questions. We joked around about not being crafters in a world of people who are. And then oohed and ahhed at the pretty nicknacks she was pricing.

My husband wandered in to pick me up and caught us cackling about something or other. They exchanged niceties.

This evening as we were cooking dinner, he asked me who she was.

"I have no idea."

"No. Me either." He sighed. "So who's going to do the deed this time?"

"It's your turn."

"Okay. I'll ask tomorrow."

We take turns looking stupid and/or insensitive. It's a good system.

Sometimes I wish everybody in the world (except me) had to wear nametags in public.

PS. Willows Blood is zooming now.


Anonymous said...

I have a great memory for names of children and adults - but it has a time lapse clause. I remember all the children and parents from my classroom in any given year. Then, for the next 10 years when they see me shopping, picnicing, walking or having a life and yell "Hello Mrs Rhubarb" I stare blankly at them and have no idea what their name is. I have developed two strategies. For the ex-pupil "Hello! Look at you, youhave grown so much, and so handsome / pretty too! How is school?" And for the adult "Hello! Great to see you again. How is the family doing? You look so well!".

jeanie said...

My problem is going back to my childhood home town where people say "I haven't seen you since you were this big".

Scotty said...

I'm usually pretty good with names so it's not a big problem for me. I remember reading a book once that suggested using a person's features (and try to be positive about it too) to help with memory retention, things like, Hairy Harry, Nosey Nigel, Kissable Kirsten, stuff like that.

One has to be careful not to let slip the whole thing though... :-)

Being a church group, I wonder if something similar would work using books of the Bible as a memory enabler?

Genesis George, Revelations Roger, Corinthians Kate, etc.

That wouldn't be considered blasphemy would it?

Debby said...

I am awful with names and faces. After 51 years, I've decided that it's because I'm unable to make eye contact. So I've begun to do that. It's easier to recognize people when you are looking them square in the face and SEEING their face.

I'm glad your book is coming along for you.

Mary O. Paddock said...

Shirley--Me too. I'm a substitute teacher at the local public school and worked with kids in a variety of other settings as 4-H staff. I just prayed that the kid didn't notice that I hadn't used their name when I talked to them.

Jeanie--Isn't it great that they still remember you though? :)

Scotty--I used to play phonetic name games with kids I was just meeting (My name is Sarah. Snakey Sarah SSS--then each kid would have to recite the other kids' names too) under the guise of helping them to get to know one another, but it was more for me. I'll have to try the facial feature trick for my interactions with adults.

Debby--Until just the last couple of years, I didn't struggle with faces--just names. However the day I introduced myself to a parent who told me we'd already met, I knew I was doomed.

In my case, I can blame a lot of that on stress. My memory has improved dramatically since I left my job.