I am an idiot. It’s hardly breaking news, but what happened last night is still making me cringe.
I get the coach to work these days. I have for a few months – and very civilised it is too. On the first day I saw a man with a kind face who I was pretty sure I knew. I was almost sure I’d worked with him. He smiled and said hello, and has done every time we’ve seen each other since.
Now, you need to know that I am terrible at remembering names. I’m not great at faces either. If I recognise you and use your name, please be impressed – there aren’t many of you out there. Having recently moved back to an office I worked in a few years ago I’ve been going through all levels or awkwardness when lovely people greet me by name, suggest coffee and say they will be in touch. I promptly cross my finger hoping the invite will never turn up as nine times out of ten I have no idea who they are. Not a clue. There are people in my life that I have known for years and I can’t address by name because I have no idea what it is. For those I can get away with they become ‘sweetheart’. Everyone else I just have to be creative about getting their attention.
Anyway, last night, the man with a kind face sat down behind me and asked how I was. Argh. I took a bit of a risk and asked where he was working now. I didn’t hear his answer so asked who he was working for, thinking that might help. He looked a bit confused. It turned out he now works at a different company, so I wouldn’t actually know his manager.
Me: But I used to work with you, didn’t I?
Him: Yes, we worked together on <programme name>
Me: Oh wow, that’s so weird. I went to a party a few months back and this man kept looking at me weirdly and it turned out he worked with me on that programme too! It was so long ago; fancy two of you remembering me from back then.
I sat back in my seat to wonder at how small the world is and it dawned on me…I turned back round.
Me: You were the man at the party weren’t you?
Him: Um, yes.
Me: <wishing the seat would swallow me but deciding to try to recover the situation with more questions> So, where do you live?
Him: Um, near the big school, XXX lane
Me: Oh God! I used to live in that road! Three houses away. How weird is that?!
Him: It’s a small world
I sat back in my seat to wonder again at how small the world is and it dawned on me…I turned back round.
Me: We had this conversation at the party too, didn’t we?
Him: Um, yes.
Me: <wishing the seat would swallow me but deciding to try to recover the situation with even more questions> So, you have children? (I DID remember this vaguely)
Him: Yes. Three. 12, 14 and 16
Me: Oh! I’ve just realised, your daughter works at a shop I go to sometimes. We’ve talked about the fact she lives close to where I used to
Him: Yes, that’s right
Me: <Dawning realisation that we’ve had this conversation too. Time to give up. Possibly time to become a hermit>
The only thing I had right is that this is a kind man. I ended up apologising profusely for clearly being worse for wear at the party and not remembering very much at all. He laughed and told me not to worry at all. The thing is, although those details will now me etched on my mind forever, accompanied by a lot of cringing, I have NO idea what the man’s name is. I guess he is destined to be one of those people… :o)