I spent the first three days of this week at a leadership conference at work. It was wonderful to see the familiar faces of so many old friends. When you work for the same organization for 25 years, the ties go deep and strong.
Yes, the ties go deep and strong, but the names don't necessarily stick with equal intensity!
I was embarrassed more than once because the face was one I knew so well--but I just couldn't cough up the person's name from my information retrieval system! What could be more insulting than to forget the name of someone you've known and connected with for years? It was mortifying.
We were all wearing name tags, but they dangled playfully from a lanyard which only had a fifty-fifty chance of being turned the right way around. It's hard enough, trying not to look obvious while making surreptitious glances at a name tag, without the information teasingly hiding against the chest of the nameless one.
With new people I connected with I made a point of making a note of the names, along with a reminder of something particular about them or something we talked about. Who knows if it will help! I hope so; but I think that I may be a lost cause, especially since it could be all downhill from here! :)
On Thursday afternoon after work, I stopped at the post office to pick up our mail and a stocky, gray haired man wearing a blue ski jacket and a peaked cap, said, "Hello, how are you?"
"I'm well, thank you," I replied, politely, with a smile and familiar feeling of cluelessness creeping over me.
"How are things going?" he said.
"You're going to have to help me out," I said, fishing desperately.
"It's Bill," he said, smiling and with an air of confidence that now I would recognize him.
"Bill Flynn," he said, studying me more closely.
I had no choice but to ask. "I'm sorry," I said, "How do I know you?"
Now he was embarrassed, "Um, I'm thinking that you look an awful lot like somebody else," he said.
We both laughed at the case of mistaken identity and I left the post office thinking that getting older is an endless adventure. We are either meeting old friends for the first time, or total strangers who we think are old friends.