Everyday Blunders: What's your name again?

I'm a self-confessed doofus when it comes to remembering names. A goldfish can probably embed more things in its memory than I can store up names of people in my head (and no they don't have a three second memory). I could not even count how many times I met a person by chance and eventually had to wrack my brain for something to call him/her. And this is not even talking about casual acquaintances or people I have known far back. I frequently find myself hovering for a name when a familiar face, usually a classmate whose name I have known some semester ago, unexpectedly comes up me for a benign hi or to start some talk. A conversation with such a person would usually go like this:

Person X: Uy Aubrey hi!

Aubrey: Uuuuiiiiii hi(notice the extreme elongation of the word)

*Flashes a huge smile while putting together scraps of memory*

So there, when you come up to me, and I don't mention your name in the first greet, I am probably trying really hard to remember who you are. Guilt usually overcomes me especially when someone calls me out by first name and I can only remember them by their face. I do not employ a selective memory when it come to people, and I do not intentionally try to ploy an I-don't-know-you scheme. If I could wish a special ability, it would probably be to have a phonebook memory, so going through the ordeal of putting a name to a face would be an embarrassment long gone.

I read from an online article that in order to be a pro at people labelling (personal names), one must denounce that he is 'bad' at names, and link unique facial features or personal peculiarities with a person's moniker. For example, one can probably link 'Aubrey' to me by seeing my huge round eyes, which they can imagine to be the pronunciation of my name-- OOwbree (with the Os being my eyes).

This post dawned on me when I faced a rather embarrassing situation this morning. I went back to my college org to leave some review materials for a friend. As I was in the office, people went about their usual business, with some greeting me occasionally. After a light chat with Dwight, the current Advo EIC, I said goodbye to everyone (which meant three people at that time) and poised myself to leave. I particularly said goodbye to an artist which I had already worked with during my term. I said, "Uy, bye". He then nonchalantly quipped "Di mo na ata ako kilala eh" (You don't remember me, do you?). I was dumbstruck that I hovered for a lousy excuse, "Teka inaalala ko yung buong pangalan mo" (Wait, I am trying to remember your whole name). Fast forward some awkward seconds later, I mentioned his surname correctly, while I called him by someone else's first name. I was so embarrassed I played cute--which I am not very good at either.

My ineptitude at remembering names really gets me all the time. For someone who believes that a person's name is the most important word to him, I literally crash and burn with my degree of face-name recognition. I know that it means a lot to a person when you remember who he is; because it implies that you attach a sense of value to him. I know I wouldn't want to pro-actively greet someone only to receive a blank and inexplicable response of confusion. Now I really need help with names.

How about you, do you have weird I-can't-remember-you moments?


Kevin in Manila said...

Hey Aubrey,
I've set aside a copy for you. Email me and we'll work out the details.