Now I REALLY Don’t Know Who You Are

I’ve written before about how I traditionally struggle with remembering what people look like. If we’ve only met a couple of times, or if it’s been a while since we last met, then chances are I draw a complete blank when I try to picture you. Like I said before: it’s not you. It’s me.

But now that everyone’s walking around masked, I’ve discovered that tendency has gotten much, much worse. It doesn’t help that I’m a fairly public person. I blog every day, and I’ve held leadership roles locally and across the state, both at work and at church. So there are a lot of people out there who know who I am (relatively speaking), and whom I might run across throughout the course of a day. (Back in pre-pandemic days, of course.)

The few times I’ve gone out in public over the last bit, there have been people who greeted me by name. People who I honestly had no idea who they were. Usually the way I handle this is to smile and pretend I know them. When I’m masked, they can’t tell I’m smiling, so instead they probably are treated to a quizzical expression and a general “Hi!” that’s as friendly as I can make it.

I know this isn’t a big deal, but I do feel bad about it. I don’t know of anything I can do to change it, though. On the plus side, when I’m in Zoom meetings, I don’t struggle with this, because people typically have their name right on their screen, so I can just read the name and remember. Maybe one day I’ll get AR glasses that will pull up everyone’s name as I walk down the street. I don’t know if that sounds like a good idea or creepy. Probably both.

While I’m on the subject of masks, I also discovered that I rely more than I thought I did on seeing people’s lips move when they talk. There have been a couple of conversations I’ve tried to have in person, and those masks make me feel hard of hearing. I know the sound isn’t getting muffled. (Not enough that it should make a difference), but it’s still a struggle to understand what the other person is saying.

So. Moral of the story? If you see me in public, remember to remind me who you are and to TALK LOUDLY SO I CAN UNDERSTAND YOU. Just get me a cane and a spot of lawn to defend, and my Grumpy Old Man persona will be complete.


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