7/10/08

Oh memory where art thou!?

One of the things I have found really hard since arriving here nearly 3 years ago, is remembering all the people I meet daily. Just imagine for one moment if you moved to another place tomorrow and literally everyone you met all day long for months was new to you!

You know there's this wonderful theory that making up a little rhyme, or linking someones name with a bizarre fact to remember them is really supposed to help. Well that's just fine and dandy when you're not faced with numerous new introductions on a daily basis for at least a year!

It's easy making friends if you have a Hubster who knows just about everyone in a 50 mile radius. It's not so great trying to remember who the heck they are the next time you bump into them on your own.

If you were to ask the Hubster what's the thing Sarah has asked you the most since she got here, he would definitely say without hesitation - "Who was that?"

It still happens a few times a week and you wouldn't believe how many times I have met someone and carried on a whole conversation without a clue who they are! In fact I think I have developed a whole new set of skills doing just this.

It can be very frustrating and it's not unusual for the Hubster to get a call from me that will go something like this:

"Hi, it's me"

"Hi, everything ok?"

"Yep but I just met a woman I know I know, but I can't remember who she is"

"What did she look like?"

"Oh she was blonde, about 50, slim/plump/tall/short (etc), distinguishing features if any? I think I may have met her at such and such place but I'm not sure"

" Was she with anyone, what was she driving?"

"Oh I can't remember but I just know we've met her somewhere before?"

"Was it so and so?"

"No, oh you know who I mean, we met her with that guy you used to work with - I think?"

And on and on we go, rarely coming up with the answer until the next time we bump into the person, when they then turn out to be someone totally different to who I thought it was!

Or the other conversation we have a few times a week is the Hubster saying to me:

"You remember you met them a few weeks ago as we were leaving Walmart and we stopped to chat for a few minutes and they were asking you about England"

"Uhhh, no I don't think I remember that, are you sure?"

"YES!"

He then will follow this up with yet more details of a meeting I have no memory of and he will get very frustrated at times. I try to explain how incredibly difficult it is to remember all these new people, but I guess until you've lived it yourself it's hard to really get it!

Oh and then I decided to be a substitute teacher in four different local schools and utter chaos ensued in my head! Soon I will be deluged with parents and kids on August 14 when school returns and I am the secretary. Of course living in a small place and being British, the word got out within days that I got the job and everyone I meet will know who I am, even if I have never met them before! So everyday at work, I spend 15 minutes studying the class rosters and remembering their little faces - it's a bit like swotting for exams!

In all honesty there have been times and events in the past 3 years when I am surprised my brain has not had a mini meltdown. In fact interestingly I tend to forget more now than I ever did before (lists are my friends), and I have a theory that's because I am permanently on memory overload!

And don't even get me started on the new thing stressing me at work. Recognising the other staff members voices on the phone, because they rarely say who it is and I don't want to be rude, insulting or look stupid!

So if you live near me and I ever walk straight past you, or give you a blank look when you greet me, please don't hold it against me. If I answer the phone to you and have to ask you who it is calling, please don't be insulted.

I'm memorable to everyone I meet as I am uniquely British (and even if they haven't met me they often know who I am), but it's totally different from my befuddled side of the fence!

13 comments:

Kay said...

Oh gosh! I really do know just how you feel. I have the same problem. Having been one of the few Asians in our school district, people tended to know me and my name. It would drive me absolutely crazy. I usually had to just fake it and say, "Hi...How's everything? What are you up to?" and then I'd keep hoping they'd say something to jog my memory. You'll do great anyway!

Brad said...

Remember me? I'm that REALLY large guy that you met at the mall with his family and you at food at a Mexican place... :-)

That was a funny story! I can identify, although having a spouse who knows EVERYbody in western Oklahoma would certainly set a very high bar for remembering people!

Trying having the problem of knowing who someone is and still saying the wrong name. I often will talk about my wife or one of my daughters and go through five names before my brain spits out the right one -- for example, I may be referencing my wife, Karla, but say "Robin...Nicole...Sarah...Ashley" before actually spitting out "Karla"!

Makes me look like a babbling idiot!

Teresa said...

I walked drove around the other day looking for a Wal-Mart I had been to several times, and that is very close to home. A few days later while in that parking lot I walked half the parking lot looking for my car... I had only been in the store 10 minutes! Forget all these new names!!! My OB says it is directly related to these extreme personal summers I am having and that my memory will be restored when I get to other side of this "change". I am believing he is right and praying that way. Loss of memory is not to be part of any permanent "change"!!!

Sarah, you are such a hoot! I love your candidness. The upside to all of this is that Hubster, is and will continue to help. You do live in a small community and eventually it will all come together for you in your mind. You have a stable job now and with the exception of parents and visitors in the office, you will be with the same people everyday. And, time and repetition are on your side! So, I am guessing that before you know it, these names will become rote for you.

Also, do consider yourself tagged. Please go to my blog for the guidelines. I fully expect to see ABBA appear as well as some Motown I should think.

Almost American said...

LOL! We live in the town where DH and his parents grew up, and I have the same problem with names! Our last name is relatively unusual though and DH and his family are very onvolved in the community, so people always seem to know who I am, or at least who I'm related to.

Oh, and he never seems to take the same route twice when we go to visit friends . . . It took me years to figure out where certain out of town friends lived and to be able to navigate there on my own!

willow said...

You are so cute! Hubster has probably lived there his entire life, so it's not really fair, is it? ;)

BritGal' Sarah said...

Brad - Yep I definitely remember having Mexican with you guys and all your names, generally if I sit down and eat with someone their good!

AA - DITTO! We also have an unusual surname and he and his family have been here forever, plus he has a well known band! However I am pleased to say the driving thing is not a problem.

Daryl said...

Oh this is so true of all of us, Sarah ... if I run into someone I know but its not in the normal context of our 'friendship' I havent a clue who they are! And if I need to introduce them to anyone I am with I am in even deep dodo ... I wish I had a 'charm' for you to use but I dont ..if you figure out one, please share.

From time to time Husband or my friend D will initiate a call which goes:

You know that song that goes ...

Oh sure .. its ...


THEY scare me .. they are both 10 yrs older than I am .. and they have amazing memories ... except for people's names!

:-Daryl

pamokc said...

Yes, and I'm sure hubster NEVER forgets a thing either!

Being at the school will help with the names. Something about seeing the name in writing helps me, then when that person walks in and I can put name and face together, that helps a lot.

John remembers details like that --"you know, we saw them at *** restaurant when we were having hamburgers" ... then I go, "that was five years ago, how do you remember that?"

Mmm said...

"So if you live near me and I ever walk straight past you, or give you a blank look when you greet me, please don't hold it against me"

LOL.

A unique situ indeed! Ah, the perils of being practically famous in a small town.

Hey, I just noticed you love "Grease" and listed it at the top of you fave movies. I love Grease too. Was obsessed with it as a kid.

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

My memory has started failing me, too. You are at a disadvantage as hubby's friends & extended friends probably all grew up together & you are new and interesting to them. They all know who you are.

Rhea said...

Oh sheesh, you've got me all nervous about remembering people now. I feel for ya!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Bugger. I've forgotten what I was going to write now.

Rob said...

Oh Sarah, I feel for ya!
I have a similar-ish problem. My OH is doing family tree research and keeps on updating me with new nuggets of info gleaned from hours of research. All this info about people connected to each other in some intricate way with a few of them populating grainy old photos while most are just names and what's more - they're all dead! How am I supposed to know the names of of all 7 children born to Great, great Gandfather Joseph???