Friday, July 20, 2007

Forget Names, Yes: Forget People: No

We all know that each human is different; unique from every other person on this planet.

One of the things that I finally realized as a teen, a true turning point within my own head, was when I realized that people in other parts of the world, other cultures have completely different views than, say, me, on almost any subject I could name.

For me, this realization was like becoming a Christian, being baptized, getting married; a true turning point in my life.

I've always had pretty strong reasoning skills. Yeah, as a boy and a teen, I lived in a fantasy world of "what ifs" and "could I possibly" type scenarios just as everyone else, but I also was one of the few people that I have ever known that like word problems in math for instance. Identify your givens, determine what your answer should be (ie, _____ Km/hr) and then the workings of the problems just seemed to fall into place for me.

I was put to the test on this quite literally and quite a lot in engineering school, but I survived.

All of that background leads me to this question: Why do I stink at remembering names?

I've said on here before that if were named numbers at birth instead of a word, I'd almost never forget a name. That's not the way it is, so I don't lose sleep over it. But numbers I can deal with much better than words.

Numbers stick. Numbers flow. Numbers "make sense" to me.

I know that not everyone is like this. Even siblings and close relatives have a complete horror of numbers.

To me, numbers are my friends.

On political things. To me, 99% of what I see and hear politician's say and act on, has absolutely zero basis in logic. Watching political machinations in our government, from stupid goings on at the local Palm Bay city, Brevard County, level up to the U.S. Congress and Sentate, Executive Branch, and Supreme Court always has me shaking my head in wonder at the lack of common sense and logic these people operate with.

Of course, this is my opinion. I watch, listen, read, then run it all through the little gray cells in my massive cranium and out come my own thoughts. If those very people read my blog for a while they very possibly would come to the conclusion that I'm as dumb as a box of rocks. That's life.

I seem to be able to make sense of some things while having to ability to make sense of other things that go on in the world.

That's an awfully dreary and heavy lead in to what I want to mention about myself today.

I HATE how I have forgotten people's names over the years.

I think back to the 80s and our time in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area, working for Delta Air Lines, picture people and events that I worked with and knew and considered friends, but when I think of them now, I can remember every thing but their names.

Not everyone. I can remember the names of lots of folks from over the years because I make it a point to, as I look back to calmly not only remember events, but to also dredge up the people's names from the depths of my mind.

Many times I'm successful, but sometimes I'm not, and when I can remember working with a person or people day after day for months and months and now I can't remember their names, it really bothers me.

One of the things I hate most about myself is that I've had a life-long problem of not focusing when I meet someone new. We shake hands, they say their name, I say mine, say glad to meet ya, and if they were to stop right there and say, hey, what did I just tell you my name was? I would not be able to answer them.

If Lovely Wife is with me, as soon as possible, I'll whisper and ask her, "what did he/she say their name was?"

I've done this all my life.

I have what few credit cards we use number's memorized, expiration date, security codes, bills account numbers, Lovely Wife's social security number, all manner of phone numbers from my entire life, including some childhood friends from 35 years ago, but I cannot remember a person's name, ten seconds after being introduced, probably 9 out of 10 times.

Each and every one of us is a total jumble of discontinuities and contradictions.

And it grieves me that I cannot remember men and women's names from years ago, that I worked with, enjoyed working with and considered friends, although we rarely interacted with one another outside of work.

One last thing.

What good is wisdom, learned the hard way, when I tend to ignore her lessons anyway?

I look back at my life and say, boy, if I had only known then what I know now, I could have really made some changes in my life.

But the harder reality is, I'm only 44. I could still make enact those hard-learned lessons today, and change my future, yet I still ignore that wisdom and/or put off acting on it.

What's wrong with me? I know that I have "a lot on the ball" but seriously, why can't I do better yet in areas of my life where I have the knowledge and wisdom to change, yet ignore it at my own peril?

Now that I have y'all good and depressed, I'll quit here.

At least I haven't forgotten the people I talked about. I might not recall their names, but I remember them, even if I probably will never see them again.

Maybe I shouldn't let it bother me to forget names as long as I remember THEM.


Hammer said...

Oh man, once again you described me perfectly. I thought I was brain damaged. I have no short term memory for names and when I meet someone new all I hear is blah blah.

It's a tough burden to live with sometimes, especially in social situations.

Thankfully my wife pays attention much better than I do.

Qtpies7 said...

I have this problem, too. And I just admit it, and most people are fine with it as long as you apologize about it. But my problem comes when I am doing my secret shopping jobs and I have to remember a name. I ALWAYS forget it before I get out of the store, even though I say it several times in my head to try to remember it and think I have it.
Today I even ran back pretending to have lost a baby toy to try to get the name, but she didn't come to the counter and I couldn't get her name! So frustrating!

katherine. said...

me too...I refer to it as "thinking geometrically" the way things fit numbers. Names to faces don't fit together. Sad thing is...I don't have a wife to help

Babystepper said...

On a related topic, just wanted you to know that I haven't forgotten you and I hope to be back in the land of the blogging soon.

Deepak Nandana said...


I have been such forgetful person myself, forgetting names all over. But my question is how I have been able to remember few names firmly for years, am I discriminating in a way?

Anonymous said...

why is it that i have a class full of peers that im with all year and i cant seem to be able to remeber anyone's name besides my professor and my neighbor

CH said...

I can forget names within seconds of people telling them to me. BUT, that's not something I will ever be OK to simply say "that's just me". Remembering names is of upmost importance in showing that you care about people. If you remember someone's name and something about them it can have a profound effect on the influence you have with them.

One thing that helps is if I physically write down names on paper or if I ask them to spell it for me when I meet them for the first time. This way their names become tangible and systemic, which is how my mathematical box-brain likes things.