SUNDAY, MARCH 27, 2011


There’s very few things more uncomfortable than a wake.  What with an indiscriminate assortment of people all wondering the same thing about you that you are of them – what’s your relationship to the deceased and are you appearing appropriately sad?  Happened to attend one earlier and came up with what I thought was a pretty good story.

It was a relative of one of Chrissy’s close friends.  She’s known her since childhood actually.  So the attendees at the wake represented a mixed bag of people from her past.  Several of them recognized her and came over to say hello.  It took my wife several seconds to process each encounter and after a few moments recalled specifics of exactly who they were and how their lives had intersected.  She wondered how they had immediately known who she was and her name, while she had to pause and intensely shovel through her long term memory to light a spark of recollection.

My new position has me spending an awful lot of time out on calls with some of my newer sales reps.  This past week on Thursday I was out with one of those rookies, she had secured an appointment at a busy car wash, with a man named Bruce.  When we got into his office he immediately recognized me.  Took me a few awkward moments to come up with a couple of innocuous leading questions where his answers lead me to remember exactly how I came to know him…fifteen years ago.

On Friday I’m out with a different rep – this time at a new gym.  We walk in – meeting this time with Matt.  Matt, of course…knows me.  Those same leading questions, and bang!  Now I know who he is.

But wait….here’s where it gets sorta fucked up.

Another guy comes around from the office and looks at me…seemed he knew me from a street festival a few years back.  Me, again playing along … finally put the face and name to some small dot buried in a file of random memory.

So today we’re riding home and Chrissy asked if I’d ever felt that so many more people remember me than I them…so I shared with her the stories of my encounters over the past couple of days, and the frankly, many other times that’s happened to me.  She said it happened to her all of the time too.  Weird in that we both faced this odd observation at virtually the same moment. But gave me a bit of perspective in trying to understand why it always seems like such a one-sided recognition.

Taking my examples – I’m a radio guy in a local market.  It’s a big market, but local enough whereas the local business owners probably deal with only a handful of radio stations and reps over time.  So, if they know me from among those few it stands to reason that it’s easier to remember me as their mind is drawing from a smaller pool of information than mine who’s looking at each of these individuals as one among literally thousands of prospects and clients I’ve met with over the years.

Following this logic it’s only natural that it would take my brain a little longer to process an encounter as having a previous connection.  It doesn’t mean I’m slow – or that my relentless attack on my remaining brain cells has dulled my mind in that I can’t remember anyone I’ve ever met.  My personal encounter file is quite full and simply takes a bit longer to sort through.

Relating this story as a more or less analogy to Chrissy’s observation as to why people would remember her before she could remember them, she suddenly glanced a somewhat menacing look towards me.  A chill shuddered down my spine as I found myself preparing to duck in avoidance of the inevitable blow to the head from the shoe tossed at me by my beautiful black wife.

No shit asshole – people remember me as one of a handful of radio people they’ve met.  Lots of people my wife knows, know her as the only black person they know.

Sometimes one persons introspective rationality is just anothers typical reality.

Sometimes everyone forgets that.