When people tell me that they’re not good at remembering names, I judge them. I see them as self-absorbed, narcissistic jerks. Harsh? Yep, but only because I am one of them.
Names are important. The existence of a name gives meaning and definition to who we are. No, we can’t sum up who we are by a grouping of letters. Of course not, but it’s a start. And if people don’t even care enough to remember just that? The start of who we are? Then chances are pretty high that they don’t care about who we are past our names. We don’t need to cry in our cereal about it. Let’s just accept it, and move on.
However, if we do in fact care about people, then remembering their names is crucial. It says, “I see you, and you really mean something.”
It was the beginning of my preschool year. My piggy-tails were pulled taut, my skirt smoothed, my back straight. The teachers interrupted my blossoming academia with an announcement, “Boys and girls! Someone very special has a birthday today and her mom was kind enough to bring in some cupcakes for all of us to share!” And the teachers walked in carrying a tray of cupcakes, one of them sparkling with the magical glow of a candle and they began to sing:
“Happy Birthday, to you… Happy Birthday to you… Happy Birthday dear Suzy… Happy Birthday to you!!!” and they walked RIGHT PAST MY DESK and up to the other Suzy, placing the tray in front of her and then clapping furiously once that little snotty nosed brat blew out the flame on MY CUPCAKE.
I couldn’t take it. The surprise of hearing my name, the excitement and anticipation of cupcakes, of singing, of the approaching celebration followed by the complete dejection of watching them pass me by was too much and I began to unravel. And then, I became unglued. They phoned my mom, explained what had happened, and had her pick me up early. Never mind that my birthday is in January and this was September. The point is, I was so attached to my name that the part represented the whole. Suzy was ME. My name is who I am. I mean, it isn’t, but it still is, in some way.
So knowing the importance of names, and how unpracticed I am at remembering them, I decided that because I do care who they are, that I would make a point of writing down their names in my notes section on my phone. I have to write them down to remember, but I’m okay with that.
Shelly the gardener, Nikki from Saskatchewan, Jack Mee-Ov from down under… those are just a few.
So go, stop being a bag of dicks and remember people’s names so that they know you care. Just don’t call out the wrong name at the wrong time.