I can’t remember people’s names and I hate myself for it.

I am so impressed when people remember my name, or especially impressed when they remember the janitor’s name, or the guy that picks up the garbage in the office and stuff like that. I think it says so much about how much they care about people.

It may not actually say that, but it looks like it. It makes people feel good.

But I am not good at that at all. And I have this theory that it just comes naturally to some people, like the ones who always try to teach you how to do it, as if it’s easy.  Yeah, for them. I ought to invent an app.  

“Hi – I’m A. Lawrence, hold still for a second while I take your picture. Now say your name into the microphone. How do you spell that?  Let me type that in. Thanks.”

Then I can go home and study the pictures.

I met this guy in a meeting once. The next time I saw him he said, “How are you, A. Lawrence?” And I was like, man, I need to look at the list of who was in that meeting. So, I did, and none of the names rang a bell. That was because he goes by his middle name, Scott. But his name in meeting requests was William S. Foiledagain.

I met this guy from another department at some kind of corporate banquet. We had a good time, sitting at the same table laughing and talking. We still say hello. He comes by every once and awhile and we talk. I have no idea where he sits, but he has had the advantage of seeing my name where I sit, at least that’s what I tell myself. This goes on for years, and it’s way too late to ask him his name.  I’m like, “Hey, how’s it going.  How are you,” and stuff like that. I’m talking to him about his kids and all kinds of things. I am practically intimate with him. I see him talking to other people, he knows everybody, so I ask them, “hey what’s that guy’s name, I’ve known him for years but I don’t know his name.”

“Yeah, I’m in the same boat,” I’m told, again and again.

I finally find someone who knows. “His name is Bentley,” she tells me. But can that be real? Is anyone really named Bentley? I still haven’t been brave enough to call him Bentley.

I went to a wedding of a friend of my wife. I didn’t expect to see anybody I knew there, but I did. I saw a guy I used to work with, only I hadn’t seen him in a long time, didn’t expect him to be there, and was taken by surprise, so it was taking a minute for it all to come back to me and I understandably blanked on his name. Right? I remembered a lot of things, projects we’d worked on, practical jokes that we played on each other. This is stupid, I thought, a lot of people can’t remember names.  I decided to be forthright about it. “I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name,” I said. He went silent and vibed me from across the table the entire night. My wife had met him before and remembered his name (because she’s one of those) and could have told me, if I had just asked her. I haven’t seen him since, but I do remember his name, now. It’s Stan.

I was at a Christmas party talking to a woman that works in my office. I introduced myself, and told her, “It’s good to meet you, I always see you around, but I’ve never introduced myself.”

She said, “we had this same conversation last year.”

Now I say, “Hi Jennifer” every time I see her. It’s getting ridiculous.

So maybe I can remember names.   

But there’s a trick to it that the experts don’t tell you. You need to embarrass yourself.

I don’t know why I care. I guess I just want people to like me. What’s with that?

2 thoughts on “I can’t remember people’s names and I hate myself for it.

  1. I agree, I always have a warm and fuzzy feeling towards someone when they remember my name when I next meet them. It is as though they have taken the time to make me feel important, that I am not just a face amongst the crowd. Even if momentarily (and even if they forget me the moment they turn away)…


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