Doctor, doctor, give me the news; I’ve got a bad case of not knowing you.

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?

43 thoughts on “Doctor, doctor, give me the news; I’ve got a bad case of not knowing you.

  1. A year or so ago, I walked into the bank to make a work deposit, and this guy greeted me by name; asked about my kid, did I still have my old Jeep…yada tada. NO idea who he was. None. To this day I wish I knew. He was lots of fun while we were at the bank!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is in these parts! Although now with the new orange Jeep plus the license plate, I won’t be able to sneakily get away with anything!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I also gave problems with name and I wish there was a easy way of remembering. Like you I just roll with the conversation and hope for the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, once acted in some environmental play with a few other one of which was also an artist, a few years later we both showed in an exhibit and I ran into him, had a conversation (he knew my name) about the play…but I couldn’t for the life of me remember his name ( which when I think about it right now…may have been Brian as well 🤔)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly I’ve already walked up to people I didn’t know at all,called them by a different name and wouldn’t give them a chance to correct me. Used to do this for the hell of it 12 years back, now you’d see it on YouTube.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I fake it as long as possible. Although I’ve been trying that trick of silently repeating the name in my head after being introduced. I’ve also tried doing the rhyming word association thing, and even the toss the name between every other word in every sentence you say to imprint it. I still forget. I’ve known my neighbor for five years. She taught kindergarten. I think her name is Regina or something that ends in -ina- but I also could be totally wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Mark! So you like my idea Mark? Wow…Mark I am so honored by this. I don’t know many Mark’s, in fact I think you are the first Mark I’ve met, online or in person. Oh, and something else Mark- I’ve said your name, Mark, so many times now that it just sounds weird when I say it- Mark, Mark, Mark. Sorry Mark, now all I want to do is laugh every time I say Mark. Maybe Mark, avoid my suggestion.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think we’ve all had this problem. My husband worked in his office for 20 years and there were still coworkers I blanked on at the annual Christmas party. It helped that there were 4 Daves and 3 Mikes though. The odds were higher for correct guesses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Back in my college days, I worked in a mall. Just for fun, I’d stand in the front of the store and call out “Mike!” when crowds of people were walking by – just to see how many turned around. I learned there are always a few Mikes in every crowd.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m horrible with names. Whether I fess up or continue on goes with the situation…in a social gathering I’m more likely to let it go, but if it’s more business related I fess up.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m pretty good at names which I now realize because of this post might just be making people feel bad. 🙂 I don’t have a trick – it just came with the brain. But if you are noticing where people are parking – now that is a talent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congratulations – you’re the exception to the rule! I probably only know about that parking spot because it’s the same exact car as mine and it kinda stands out in a sea of white vehicles.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The struggle is real! I’m most successful with unusual names or even a name like Margaret, because I don’t know any Margaret’s. I run into problems with Lisa’s and Lori’s because I know too many.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I used to remember everyone’s name. Then I forgot human names and only remember the names of their dogs. Then I had a kid, only learned kid names, and am now referred to as “That Kid’s Mom,” as are all other moms. We gave up trying to learn actual names and have accepted our fate (at least for the next decade or so).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I never remember anyone’s name. If I’m lucky I’ll remember a previous conversation and mention that topic, while I try to figure out who this is. Or my default is to talk about the food at the event. Just charge into that subject, because everyone has an opinion about food.

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  11. I too suffer from Namenesia.
    I once read that when you meet someone and learn their name, say it a few times while talking to them. This is supposed to help you remember their name the next time.
    I usually forget to do this, so that trick is moot.

    On occasion, I think I’ve met someone, but can’t remember for sure if we’ve met. So after talking with them and departing I would say: “It’s so nice to see you”.
    Not: “It’s nice to meet you” or “see you again”
    Covering my ass is a work in progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I suck at this too. But worse. I don’t remember faces. Hubs and I were riding an elevator with another couple. It was clear we were heading to the same event, so I thought I’d introduce myself. I held my hand out to the woman. She looked away, chin up, ignored my hand, and said, “I know who you are.” Mystified, I turned to her husband. He kindly shook my hand and said, “We’ve already met.” Of course I apologized, but… sheesh lady.
    Worse: a woman once bounded up to me (bounded!!!) and wrapped her arms around me. As we hugged, I said, “I’m guessing you’re a parent at the school.” She nodded. “And we’ve met before.” As you can imagine, she let go at that point.
    I’m the worst, Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see what you did there, Betty.

      Faces throw me for a loop too. People look vaguely familiar but I can never quite place them. Especially actors. I’ll be like, “Hey, wasn’t he in ‘Men In Black’?” And Tara will say, “No, babe. That’s Jim Carrey. He was in ‘Dumb & Dumber.'”

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m really good with names, or I used to be before my brain got full (how I describe the ageing memory lapse scenario happening) so it was never a problem. Except for that one time. My mother used to do the school run with my daughter while I worked, so I was dependant upon her for the information on new people. One person fell into the hole of knowing both her name & my name, so my mother never asked for hers. Our daughters became fast friends and I become more & more uncomfortable. I even knew her husband’s name for goodness sake ‘cos she introduced us. Just as I was about to admit it and ‘fess up, our practice nurse mentioned her in passing. I’ve never been more grateful.

    It’s easier now I’m old and grey, so people simply assume 😀 My elderly neighbour is fab. Can’t remember anyone’s name & admits openly. She occasionally gets my name right, which causes us both to laugh like crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m terrible with names. Sometimes I have a kid for a whole school year and the next year (or even that summer) I see them and say, “Heeyyyyyyyyy, kiddo.” Totally blank the name. Or end up calling them Trevor when their name is Dexter or something like that. Embarrassing.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sorry, I have no idea how best to remember names but if it makes you feel any better the answer to a question of Hollywood Squares I saw many moons ago was something along the lines that most people don’t remember names. I’m sure that comes as no surprise but it’s how I still placate myself with that factoid when I can’t remember a name.

    I also remember some days being so busy at work that I would joke that I had to check my own badge to remember it. In the aerospace biz, then as now probably for security reasons, everyone was badged which of course made it easier to learn their names.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It’s part of my actual job to remember people’s names and I still suck at it. Sometimes I will say the name over and over in my head right after I meet someone and try to connect it to a memorable characteristic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The worst is when I’m talking to one person whose name I don’t remember and another person comes up whose name I also don’t remember and they look to me to introduce them to each other. I’ll say something like, “you two know each other, right?” and pray that one of them takes it upon themselves to initiate the name exchange.

      Liked by 1 person

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