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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.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets February 3, 2015, 2:17 am

    Also make it a point to spell a person’s name correctly, especially when you can easily look it up.
    Can you tell people often overlook the H in my name?
    If I send you an email with the correct spelling of my name in the email address and you still get it wrong, I automatically assume you a) don’t care or b) are careless. Neither works well for me.

    Bag of dicks. Ha, ha. Heh, heh.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com February 3, 2015, 7:14 am

      RAWR! So frustrating. I get Susie, Suzie, Susy, all the time and yes, literally a line down in an email from where I had just signed, “SUZY.” Grrrr.

  • Susie @ SuzLyfe February 3, 2015, 3:46 am

    I would have fought that child to the death.
    And never asked her name.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com February 3, 2015, 7:11 am

      Yeah, it was trauma to the fullest.

  • Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine February 3, 2015, 4:16 am

    That sounds like such a sad experience for a pre-schooler! I’m sure i would have been distraught too. I hate that I can be bad at remembering peoples names. When I am introduced to one person, I’m usually ok…but if I meet a few people at once, I’m lucky if I can remember one of their names.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com February 3, 2015, 7:12 am

      Yes, totally hard when it’s a group of people. Impossible, really. I can literally forget all of their names 3 seconds after they tell me. UGH.

  • Lori February 3, 2015, 7:48 am

    poor you – I had no idea that happened to you!

    And in defenence of myself as someone who never remembers names – I care very much for each person I meet – sometimes their name isn’t as important to me as what they are telling me about – I just don’t let them know I’ve forgotten their name. I see so much more importance around who that person is about than just their name. Yes. I said it. I don’t think remembering a person’s name is as important to me as it is to you. And I don’t care if the Sbucks barista gets it wrong and writes my name Laurie by mistake – it sounds the same – does it really matter?

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com February 3, 2015, 8:03 am

      That makes a lot of sense to me, Lori! And I respect that because you are one of the most selfless people I have ever known. Sometimes I like to write things in hopes of getting people to think, not just robotically plow through life. Even though I do think names are significant, and it’s evident that using a person’s name makes them feel cared for (unless it’s overused by sales people as a manipulative tactic which drives me INSANE), I don’t believe that The Name is the be-all, end-all. That’s just ignorant. But it’s fun to stretch the brain a little.

      • Lori February 3, 2015, 8:17 am

        Yah. And next time I will check my spelling before hitting submit. “Defenence”? Ha ha.

        By the way, how do I get my picture on my post ? Newbie.

        • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com February 3, 2015, 8:24 am

          Ooooh, I’m not sure. I’m a newbie with this stuff too. Something to do with a gravatar? Or something? Yeesh.

  • Vern February 3, 2015, 10:13 am

    I belong to a recovery group where there are often scared, lonely, fearful newcomers who want to better their lives, but don’t feel like they belong anywhere. I was like that once myself, and I remember how grateful I was when someone remembered my name at my second meeting. I looked for that person every time I attended.
    Unfortunately my memory is the second shortest thing in my life (I forget what the first thing is). But I decided it was important to remember people’s names, so I started doing it by word association. One newcomer has the same first name as my youngest daughter’s husband. Easy. Another person had the same first name as Bill Clinton’s famous “girlfriend” (I did NOT have sex with that woman!). It’s the only way I can remember her name, and I’ll bet she wonders why I’m always smiling when I say hello to her.
    It’s an important way to let people know that you actually care about who they are.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com February 3, 2015, 10:22 am

      Yes yes yes! Word association works well. I once new a lady named Anita and I only remember her name because she told me why she kept her maiden name–because her husband’s last name is Dyck (pronounced “dick”) so if she had taken his name, she’d be “Anita Dyck” and well… that’s just hilarious. I ran into her at a race a few months ago and she wasn’t shocked that I remembered her name. She told me everyone remembers her name. 🙂

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