Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What's Your Name Again?

Sorry about yesterday's post. I was a bit loopy from having concentrated on the same topic for too long. I'm usually a multitasker. I'm able to goof off and get my work done at the same time. I'll load a page in my class and while I'm waiting I'll play a few cards of solitaire and check my e-mail. The only problem was that last night I had a lot of work to get done and only three hours to get it done in. While combining work with not-work keeps me sane, it's not exactly the most efficient method of getting things done, so I had to shift into Super Duper Focus Mode, something I haven't even thought about in like five years. Focusing isn't my specialty. I am capable of it and when I do force myself to go there I'm crazy productive, but I come out of it like a 15-year coma patient: a little dizzy and confused. So you get what we had here last night. And I don't like it any more than you men.

Despite my ability to get mad focused when I'm forced to by the specter of a bad grade and a looming deadline, I simply suck at remembering names. I even get my wife's name wrong occasionally and I have a very big incentive to get that one right, and perhaps I would if my wife didn't recognize the fact that I'm an idiot and my flubbing the family nomenclature is not a sign of cheating or a lack of love on my part. This failure in my intellectual makeup gets really annoying at work, though. As a teacher, I have to learn nearly 200 names a year. Surprisingly, I can usually keep up with them, although I've also learned to work through the occasional brain fart where I look at a kid sitting in front of me and I can't for the life of me dredge up their name.

The worst example of this came yesterday when I saw a kid in line at break and thought to myself, "Man he looks familiar. Is he is one of my classes this year or did I have him last year?" I was unable to answer this question until almost lunch when he showed up for my class in third block. To be fair, he'd had a haircut over Thanksgiving break, but he's been in my room every school day for more than four months now. It's a little disturbing to realize that I forgot who he was after being separated from him for only a week.

And that's just what happens after a week. Forget remembering most of those kids after a good summer break. I'll come back and they'll remember me and address me by name (they always do) and I have to give them a generic response because I remember teaching them and what kind of student they were, but I can't remember if Amber really is that girl's name. Even when I think I'm right, the fear of calling someone the wrong name keeps me from taking the risk because there is no reward, really.

But really anyone who's known me for a very long shouldn't be surprised that I have trouble with this. In fifth grade my football coach would make me run laps every time he asked me what day of the week it was and I couldn't answer him immediately. I did a lot of running that fall. I did at least manage to keep up with the days of the week when I started having to make sure I got to where I needed to be own my own when I started working after school jobs in high school. I guess the real problem is that I just don't put that much value on human life. Remembering a name just takes up space in my brain that I could otherwise occupy with facts like "Coco Chanel was the inventor of the little black dress" and "an easy way to tell apart red-tailed hawks and red-shouldered hawks is that the one with the shoulders hunts by flying low to the ground while the one with the tail hunts by soaring high in the sky." You know, just the basic, everyday facts.

When I get old and start displaying signs of Alzheimer's, my current inability to come up with names (or even common words like grass when I'm a little tired) is going to mask those symptoms and my family won't realize I've gone senile until I drive my car into the pond and drown because I forgot how to undo my seatbelt.


Julie said...

You can't be worse at remembering names than me. I used up all my name remembering while at the paper.

And fortunately, researchers have developed a test that can predict early onset. I'm hoping it will be approved by the time I need it. Of course, a cure would be better, but I'll take what I can get.

Courtney said...

College professors can get away with not remembering their students' names. They're supposed to be distant and unapproachable. Maybe that's the career path for you. Join me!

sid said...

ha ha ha. i'm the exact same way. i don't bother remembering ppl's names or birthdays but ask me who is related to who in Days and I have no problem giving you the answer. I can also quote various TV shows. also there was this college professor who left his baby in the backseat in the car. unbfortunately the baby died - heat stroke or something. he'd forgotten that he was supposed to take the kid to nursery school.

Mickey said...

I'm so not impressed with Coco Chanel. Somebody would have come up with a little black dress eventually. I mean, once you run through all the colors you're bound to land on black eventually. So not impressed.

Mickey said...

By the way, are you trying to make commenting more difficult here? I know I've always complained about the stupid word verification, but now it even requires an extra step, and only on your blog. What gives?

Mickey said...

But now I realize that you may be addressing my oft-voiced complaint that we can't comment and read your post at the same time. Thanks for that, I guess.

I suppose nothing's perfect, least of all Blogger.

Jacob said...

Mickey: I think I've killed the word verification. This should fix your problems. It doesn't take any more steps than the other methods. You click comment it brings you here and you move on. I loathe the pop up method, so I'm not going to do that, but this at least lets you have your post and comment on it too.

And in case you're having to click the back button twice now to get out of my blog, there's a little upside down triangle next to the back and forward buttons on both Internet Explorer and Firefox. If you click that, you can go back to anywhere you've been in the last ten or so pages with just one click.