It’s been said that no sound is sweeter than the sound of one’s own name. This makes perfect sense if you think about it. Nothing is more personal, and puts someone more at ease, than addressing them by name – unless of course they’ve never met you before. Then things could get awkward and downright creepy. Anyway, one of the most incredibly underrated talents is the ability to remember an individual’s name upon the first introduction. A few month’s back, I discovered that my closest neighbor could have quite possibly written the book on this. No problem right? Wrong! Because, you see, I was absent on the day they handed out the name-recall talent.
I have a strange portion of my memory that if I’ve met you once, I’ll remember your face forever. Unfortunately, it will most likely take me a few meetings to get your name down. So on the evening that my wife and I met our new neighbors – a very friendly, likeable couple - their faces were forever ingrained in my noggin. The names, on the other hand… Let’s just say I would know their faces well. My wife was no better. When we walked back into our house, she immediately asked, “what were their names again?” I responded with a shoulder shrug before rattling off several names that they “might have said”. Of course, the next time we saw them, the husband greeting us both by name, forcing me to go with my trusty cover-up, “hey what’s up buddy!!!” “Buddy” and “My Man” usually seem to do the trick, but when we’re bound to see these folks several times per week, they’ll quickly be privy to my game.
Feeling a sense of guilt because our neighbors genuinely went out of their way to listen and remember our names, while my wife and I were somewhere in la la land, I tried to figure out the best possible way to learn their names, short of asking them. My brother-in-law volunteered to wait outside on a pseudo stake out mission to introduce himself, but the timing never worked out. A police officer cousin suggested that I get their tag number for him to run, but I thought that to be a bit sinister. Finally, my sister came through with the idea of a White Pages reverse look-up. Punch in the address, and if they’re listed, their names will pop up. Bingo!
Opportunity presented itself this morning as I was leaving for work. While walking to my car, I heard, “Good morning Jim.” I looked up, and for the first time, I confidently replaced months of “hey what’s up buddy?!” with “Hey Tom! How you doin’?!” and walked to my car giving myself a silent, yet affirmative ”Yes!” like I had just won something. Hopefully Tom didn’t catch that…. or the fact that I said his name slightly louder just to make sure that he heard it. Oh well, it’s great to finally put a name to the face after all this time.