I took a drive up to Newark-on-Trent t’other day, to pick up a piece of test equipment.
The chap who had the OTDR lived much further north, so we met in the middle, at a McDonald’s in Newark: a two-hour drive for each of us.
I arrived five minutes before he did, so I got the coffees in. ”Ahh,” he said as we shook hands, “I thought it was you.”
I’ve never seen him before in my life.
“We met some years back in… Hemel, I think it was.”
There was a good chance that it was, as I worked in Hemel for many years. But still, I’d swear blind that I’ve never met him before.
On the way home, I took a small diversion and called in to see my mate Dave, so that we could have a cup of tea and chat about nerdy amateur radio for a bit. Knowing that I was on the lookout for a secondhand HF rig, Dave contacted his mate Martin who had one for sale. Martin remembered me from my old operating days. I looked up his callsign and, again, would swear blind that we have never conversed. I daresay though, that if I still had my old logs, I’d probably find that we’d worked each other several times.
This happens to me all the time. I have a terrible memory for… well, people. I can remember my home telephone number from thirty-odd years ago (several houses and about half-a-dozen different numbers since), yet I can’t remember the name of the friend of a friend that I met only last week.
I have a habit of calling people “mate”, because I can’t remember their actual names.
And yet, people always seem to remember me.
A few years back, as I was coming out of Sainsbury’s, a chap stopped me with a tap on the shoulder. “Long time, no see!” he stated, going on to ask me how I was. Was I still married? How are the kids? etc, Then he went on to ask about people at work: How’s Mr C these days? Is Steve still driving that little sports car? He obviously knew a lot about me and about the place where I worked. We had possibly even worked together at some point. And yet…
I had never seen him before. In. My. Life.
We chatted for several minutes and all I had going around in my head was: “Who the fuck are you?” The only comment I made in the whole conversation that might have indicated to him that I actually knew who he was, was “So, you’re still working at the British Standards Institute, then?” An educated guess, as he was wearing a tie adorned with the BSI logo.
To this day, I don’t know who he was. But, he knew me.
Which is kind of worrying.