When I was a freshman at the what is widely considered to be the Harvard of the West Coast I checked out this campus organization and got into a rather lengthy conversation with one of the leaders. He was a cool enough guy and I thought that if I were to return to the group, I’d have a friend who could help me ease into the cliques and feel at home . . . so that I could eventually form my own clique. You know how that works right?
The following week, I went back and was happy to see my new buddy. I said, “Hey ——! What’s up?”
His response: “Oh… hey! Oh man, what was your name again?”
Me: “I thought we were friends! We talked for a while last week. Remember that? I practically poured out my heart in those 10 minutes. OK, maybe I didn’t but at least I cared enough to remember your name. Forget this, I’m outta here, fool!”
I really said that to him. In my mind. In any case, I never returned to that group.
I don’t know why it’s such a big deal to me but it drives a stake in my heart whenever a person forgets my name, especially after we have any sort of meaningful conversation or interaction.
Let me be the first to say, however, that I’m not much better myself. I have introduced myself to people in the past who have politely (and sometimes angrily) informed me that this is the 3rd time I’m meeting them. Ouch.
There’s this somewhat influential leader that I have met about 5 times (no exaggeration). Each time he smiles and tells me “nice to meet you, DK.” Well, obviously it’s not nice enough since it’s about the millionth time we’re meeting, jerk. (Just kidding. I would never say this. I would only think it.) Seriously though, he has no recollection of our meeting, ever. 50 first dates style. Maybe it’s because all Asian DK’s look the same.
I’ve been thinking about this lately and I’m sharing this with you now because I realized that a friendship doesn’t really start until you know (and remember) a person’s name. Why? It’s because everything and everyone we value has a name.
We choose to remember a person’s name because we see or choose to see value in that person. . . or sometimes they have a name like Gunther and it’s pretty dang hard to forget.
When was the last time you cared to know the name of a person who had nothing to offer you except their friendship?