Thursday, I had an all-day training session in Wall. Yes, home of the drug store. And the best donuts on earth. I once drove 100 miles for one, so when boxes appeared in the community center for the meeting and I only had to walk a few steps to grab one, I did not complain.
Six hours in a folding metal chair isn’t exactly the most comfortable way to spend a day, but the presenters were energetic and made it fun by incorporating games, contests, and video clips. Alas, no Julia Roberts this time, but there was a pretty funny Saturday Night Live sketch and some clever commercials.
I got to meet some coworkers I’d never seen before. And exchange pleasantries with others I have.
Even if I didn’t remember who they were.
Here’s the thing: I’m terrible with names. It takes me forever to learn who’s who at places I work. I’ve been at CenturyCo a year and a half now, and there are people here whom I could not name if my life depended on it. Seriously, if some nut job stormed the building, grabbed the guy with the red beard in the back cubicle, pointed a gun to my head, and said, “Tell me his name if you want to live,” I’d be a goner. Oh, I’d play the odds and guess Michael or John. But he’d probably end up Cody and it would be lights out for yours truly.
To be fair, these guys work in the back part of the building, which might as well be Siberia since I rarely venture back there.
This namenesia (name amnesia…makes sense, right?) sometimes proves problematic. Like during the meeting, when one familiar-looking guy came up to me and said, “Hey, Mark! How’s it going?”
I knew I knew him. I just didn’t know how I knew him or who he was. Undeterred, I plunged forward with the conversation.
“Hey, you,” I said, falling back on that casually ambiguous standby. “I’m doing great! How are things going in your world?”
“Terrific! We don’t see too much of you around our building.”
A-ha! This helped narrow things down. CenturyCo has a complex of three buildings in Rapid City, clustered within walking distance. So, I knew Mystery Guy worked in one of the other buildings. Process of elimination, guys.
The only question was, which building? Mystery Guy kind of looked like a new employee I interviewed for an article a few months ago. One who had moved here from Denver. Yes. That had to be it. His name was Steve. I was just about to open my mouth, say something like, “How do you like Rapid City compared to Denver, Steve?” when he cut me off.
Thank god he cut me off.
“I love that we drive the same car!” Mystery Guy said. Definitely not Steve, because the only other red Hyundai Kona is parked outside the other other building. Not Steve’s building. Suddenly, I remembered who this guy was. The manager of the call center!
But, ahem. I still couldn’t remember his name. I thought it might be Bill. In fact, I was 90% certain it was Bill. But I wasn’t completely sure, so I continued to avoid any and all mention of his name.
Good thing. It’s actually Brian.
I don’t know why I’m so terrible at this stuff. I can’t even blame advancing age; once, when I was working at my first-ever retail job in high school, some kid my age came in and had a five-minute conversation with me. Asking by name how my family members were doing, whether I was still dating so-and-so, what I thought of Mrs. Brown’s math assignment, etc. After he left, a coworker asked, “Who was that?”
“I have no idea,” I replied.
Three decades later, I still don’t know who he was.
Have you ever been in a position where you didn’t remember somebody’s name? Is it better to fake it or ‘fess up? Do you have any tips for remembering peoples’ names?