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First Name Basis (Or, Culture Shock 3 Years On)

Hello My Name Is...

Photo by Alan O’Rourke (creative commons)

Padraig. Maire. Mairead. Sinead. Siobhan. Luisne. Nora. Deborah. Tony. Traolach. Donal.

These are just a few of the names of folks we know around here.

I’ve noticed since we’ve been here people always greet me using my first name.

This has both made me smile, and unnerved me.

It made me smile because I felt special; the fact that they remembered who I was.

Unnerved me because chances were I couldn’t remember their name, and I was embarrassed.

You see, I’ve always been truly horrible at remembering names. I’m the queen of greeting you without using your name, but making you feel like I remember. Usually using some sort of cute nickname when I say hello.

I hadn’t paid this too much conscious mind, though, until recently when I heard the DJ’s of my favorite morning radio show talking about this very thing.

They were talking about what to do when A) Someone calls you by the wrong name, and B) You can’t remember someone’s name you’ve known for ages. One DJ offered up to just be bubbly and say, “Hiya!” However, the other DJ’s in the booth were indignant at this notion.

That’s when I really started paying attention. Sure enough, just about everyone I pass in the school, at the shop, wherever uses my first name every time they greet me.

You guys, there are people we have known or had contact with the entire three and a half years we have been here and I still cannot for the life of me remember their name!! Suddenly I was mortified that I had been unconsciously committing what I now know to be quite the large social faux pas.

Now, I’m stuck in this crazy limbo land where  I know I need to start using people’s names when I say hello…but I can’t remember so many of them!! And after 3 1/2 years, how do I ask?

Curse this foggy memory of mine. Of course, it doesn’t help that so many people have the same name, or a version of it. Take the name Mary. We know I don’t know how many Maire’s (the Irish form of Mary), Mairin’s (Maureen), Mairead’s (pronounced either MAH-rad, MAW-red, or muh-RAID, depending on who you ask)…sometimes its hard to keep them straight. And so then, at times I think I have an idea of the person’s name, but doubt stops me at the last second, terrifying me that I’m about to say the wrong name. Still not sure which evil is the lesser…

But, I’m not going to make excuses. I’m doing my best now to use the names that I know, and to find out the ones I can’t keep straight. And remember them.

So, what’s your best mnemonic device for names? And what do you do when you can’t remember someone’s name you’ve known for ages?

I’m linking up with The Better Mom

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10 Responses to “First Name Basis (Or, Culture Shock 3 Years On)”

  1. nmetzler says:

    Well, I’m in the same boat you are. Especially at our church where everyone and their brother knows half my family history, including my name, and I don’t have a clue who they are. So… I ask my husband later… 🙂 (and mind you, this is FIVE years later.)

  2. staceydaze says:

    Oh! This is so me. I love nicknames. I’m southern, what can I say? LOL But it does take me a while to actually learn a person’s name. What does help me is if I actually try to recall it later when they aren’t around. My husband actually wrote the names of a few neighbors on a white board in the utility room when we met when we first moved here. Walking past those daily certainly helped me. Maybe you can tag team with your husband? 🙂

  3. lyonsroarforgod says:

    This post made me laugh out loud, because I am the same way sometimes! Definitely awkward when you KNOW that you should know this person’s name, they are talking away to you like you are their long-lost friend of all time, and you are completely blank! I just try to keep talking and later, ask my kids or my husband. And then I say the name over and over, out loud, trying to get it to stick. 🙂

    Have a great day! Lisa

  4. hopefulleigh says:

    Always love hearing about Irish culture. I usually have a pretty good memory for names. When I first meet someone, I try to think their name over and over again while we’re talking, as in “Oh, Ryan works at a school. Ryan teaches science” and so on. Then I’ll try to use their name once or twice in our conversation to keep it fresh.

  5. Jayleigh says:

    I work in a small-town shop and have many regular customers. About 8 years ago, I decided that if I knew someone’s name, I would use it. And if I didn’t, then I would pay attention around that person until I found out their name. Oftentimes, I will write down the name of the person and their kids (it may be lame, but then I remember the kids’ names!) and keep it in a compartment in my purse.

    Praying that you’ll succeed in this!

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