Now let me just start by saying I don’t suffer from delusions of grandeur (I enjoy the hell out of them).
I’m not so self-impressed as to think that people whose interactions with me are brief and transactional in nature are holding onto my cherished image like some precious jewel. And I’m certainly not under the impression that encountering me, even if it’s just for a few brief moments as I say “hello, let me know if I can help you find anything,” and later, if you’re lucky, “have a nice day,” is some life-altering experience for every person who walks through the shop’s door, on par with, say, a rom-com version of love at first sight, or the second coming of Christ.
At best we’re talking third coming, more likely fourth. Probably more like the fifth “weekend mini-getaway visit” of Christ, if I’m being honest.
But am I really so forgettable? I mean, how many nearly-six-foot blonde women are there on the East Coast? More to the point, how many of them are there at my workplace?
To give you some perspective here, we have three employees, myself included, and neither of the others passes 5’4″.
Not remembering me isn’t a problem in itself. Who in god’s name remembers every single waitress, retail worker, bus driver, barrista – you see where I’m going with this list, I think – that they encounter in a lifetime? Hell, who remembers all the people in those jobs from a single week?
But there is a fairly large, inexplicably adamant contingent of people who think they DO remember me. In fact, they’re certain of it.
They tell me about conversations we didn’t have, the list of products I didn’t sell them (because, if I don’t remember your face, certainly I’ll remember that specific magnet), on days I didn’t work, positive that I’m the one who’s mistaking my personal history, and unchanging weekly schedule.
FYI, folks, I have a pretty decent memory myself. At least for things like “whether or not I worked for eight hours yesterday.”
I’m not annoyed by these people in the least – it’s not malicious, or even that big of a deal. I’m just puzzled. I’m the kind of person who gets a little nervous before introducing friends to one another, in case I flub and call one of them the wrong name. I blush when I accidentally yell hello to someone on the street who, momentarily, looked like someone I actually know. I’ve been with my boyfriend over five years and I still have a moment of doubt when I have to tell someone his middle name.
I may be an extreme case, but to me, mistaking someone you’re supposed to know, or confusing a stranger with someone you do know, is one of the more extreme forms of embarrassment that doesn’t involve a bodily fluid of some sort, mainly because it involves a very real possibility of legitimately hurting someone’s feelings.
Because really, who wants to think of herself as “basically interchangeable?”
The best part is the end of these conversations, when, as though to finally prove to me that I am, in fact, me, and they were right all along, the confused customers tell me, triumphantly:
“It’s Renee, right?”
Nope, that’s not me. That’s the other girl who works here, looks very little like me, is at least half-a-foot shorter and significantly more petite, and has reddish hair.
You know, my identical twin.
I’ll concede that our hair is close in length.
But I have to say, I’m still having a hard time believing that most people go around the world identifying one another primarily by hair length…