Posted by: Diane | August 21, 2013

Total “Unrecall”

Yesterday, I experienced a very awkward encounter.

I was doing some shopping at my “old stompin’ ground” grocery store, in the community where I used to live.  All of a sudden, I heard, “Diane?…” I swung my grocery cart around and stood face to face with a very pretty, soft spoken woman who obviously recognized me. The problem was I had no idea who this woman was yet, at that moment, I chose to engage in a twenty minute conversation with her, hoping that some name or event would trigger my memory. I was confident that I would be able to recall her face. I didn’t want to embarrass her or myself so I proceeded into “the wilderness.”

So much for confidence. I continued to pull a complete blank and consequently, put myself in a really bad place.

The good news is that after about fifteen minutes, I got it.  The bad news is that it took fifteen minutes for me to get it!  When I subtly mentioned that I could not remember her last name (when, in actuality, I couldn’t remember her first name either…or her face!) she graciously told me and thankfully, everything clicked into place.

Needless to say, the last five minutes of the conversation were far more meaningful than the first fifteen minutes of talking to this woman.  I don’t know if I can blame this memory lapse on my age or not, but I’m telling you, I really struggled internally to place this woman.

As I look back on this harrowing and humbling experience,  I realize that I could have handled the awkwardness in a much better way – like ‘fessing up front that I did recognize this woman. It all turned out fine in the end but I have since run through this scenario in my head many times. Was I being dishonest by not admitting that I didn’t recognize her? Is there a right and wrong response to this situation?

Have you ever been in this awkward position?

What would YOU do?

Would you play along and say “Heyyy”…hoping that you will eventually clue into her identity or just be straight up and tell her, “I’m sorry, but I have no idea who you are…”

Just wondering….


  1. Happens to me often when someone is out of their “place” – as in meeting the post office lady at the pharmacy. Sure, the face is familiar, but from where?? Afraid I’ve done the same thing you did – too embarrassed to ask. However, one of the saving graces of, ahem, getting older, is that you can say “wow, having a senior’s moment here” and go from there with a smile. It’s not like other people haven’t had the same experience, right?

    • Yah, definitely….it’s the “out of context” that really threw me off this time. Plus, it’s really been a very long time since I’ve seen this woman. Maybe it really was a “senior’s moment! Thanks, Anne!

  2. Actually, I’d love to see this one on the programme “What Would You Do?”
    Happens to me often…I respond in both ways. Sometimes I remember who they are, and sometimes I draw a blank. Lately, I just say “I’m sorry…I’m drawing a blank. I’m so bad with names!!” No shame in it! Reality !

    • Great suggestion, Kathy! Thanks. Next time, I’ll be ready…because there WILL be a next time! 🙂

  3. Been in that situation more than once. I used to do the “heyyyy” response. Now I just say “I’m so sorry, I don’t remember your name.”

    • I’m thinking that’s the better response! Thanks for your input!

  4. Faced this situation many times in my 81 years. I say right up front that ‘I can’t remember your name.’ The awkward moment passes and we can get on with our conversation. xoxo ‘Mrs. B.’

    • Well, at least you remember the face – I didn’t even recognize this woman! But yes, your advice is duly noted. Be humble and admit my memory loss!

  5. Boy, can I relate to this esp. right now! My memory is still having major problems, since my bad fall down the stairs(3 months ago) I want sooo much to be able to remember more. I usually just ask them in the beginning- tell me our memories/relationship. Sr. moments now for sure~

  6. I’m glad I’m not the only one with this awkward experience! I laughed that you use my technique, “what’s your last name again?” as of we do know their first name!

    I think that going along, hoping our memory will catch up is the best approach. It could be unkind to the other person’s feelings to admit we have no clue who they are. I’m all for avoiding embarassment whenever possible.

    Lovely posts, Diane!

    From Zelda

    • Thanks for the kind words, Zelda!
      Yes, this time, “What’s your last name again?” worked – it provided the context to recall this woman and I must say that she was very gracious with my asking. Sure hope this doesn’t happen again…but I have a funny feeling it will!

  7. I have been in this situation more than once. In the “do unto others” category, I try to give my own name when I see someone that I have not seen in awhile. That saves them from the possible embarrassment of not remembering my name.
    Now when I start forgetting my own name…that’s another issue! Linda

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