Jak mam na imie?

01Feb06

The new girl at the office tried to say hi to me a couple of times at lunch, but I totally ignored her. It’s not really my fault though. She was calling me Brian.1

“You mean ‘Peter’?” I asked when I finally clued in. She was mortified in front of her tablemates. I assured her it was an understandable error. We have plenty of Brians at the company, for some reason. A lot of Jeffs too. I’ve been trying to get things down to one person per name by laying off or firing all the superfluous workers, I said. For example, we used to have another Peter, and now we don’t.2 When he was originally hired, I was enraged that they would hire another Peter without consulting me, and I said so to his manager, Greg. Thereupon, he told me that Greg was actually his middle name, but he didn’t go by his first name, which was Peter. This was a shocking revelation: I was the interloper. But now Greg’s gone too, and we’re down to just the one Peter, as it should be.

Anyway, through this change of subject and flurry of patter, the awkwardness was dispelled and she clearly felt a lot better to know that it’s not a big deal if you don’t remember someone’s name. Which is good, because I have no earthly idea what hers is.

1. My own mother has also been known to call me Brian, which is my stepfather’s name. This might be creepy and Oedipal if it weren’t for the fact that she’s been messing up all of her loved ones’ names for years. I’ve also been called by my nephew’s name, and once when addressing my younger sister, she cycled through every name in the family, including that of the cat, before arriving at the right one. This upset my sister greatly.
2. A real loss, for the record. He’s a great guy. Fortunately, he lives a block away from me. Also for the record, I didn’t really have him canned. The Greg story is true, though.



16 Responses to “Jak mam na imie?”

  1. 1 TBS

    Henny likes calling me “Scott Paul”. Of course that’s probably the result of throwing a huge rock at her head in Presqu’ile.

  2. 2 Peter Lynn

    At least she doesn’t call you “Stinky”, Stinky. But you really shouldn’t throw rocks at your mom’s head. She’s a sweet lady. Remind me to beat your ass for that.

  3. 3 Dickolas Wang

    I’ve gone entire school years speaking to people on a daily basis without knowing their names. A bit of a niggling problem, sure, but it becomes completely untenable when it turns out they know your name. This has happened at least three times.The best way that I ever resolved this problem: when we got back our calculus midterms, I feigned looking at my own, and then asking said friend, “May I see how you did #1?” He’d give me the exam, I’d turn to page 1, where his name was written. This worked another time with a computer science assignment.The upshot of this is that I will never forget the names of Jon Harris and Shahrzad Rafati.

  4. 4 Peter Lynn

    Right now, I’m the guy in our fencing club who keeps track of the attendance figures to see how many people are turning up from week to week. So I’ve had to learn and remember everyone’s name. For some reason, I find the easiest way to do this is to group people into pairs: father and son, boyfriend and girlfriend, etc. Pairs seem easier to remember. And because we don’t want to make a big show of taking attendance like we’re in public school or something, I’ve gotten really good at being able to assess who’s in the room at a glance and then turn my back and write it all down.Back in university, my friend Jon and I had a complex system of signals to beckon each other for help in social situations. One signal was a distress call for when one of us needed to be extricated from a boring conversation. Another called for the non-signaller to join and introduce himself so that the girl would introduce herself in turn, while the name-forgetter would learn her name while making a show of berating himself for neglecting to make the introductions himself. The system worked well, except when it got too complex and we started mixing up the signals, with tragic results.

  5. 5 Riley

    I must admit that I have no idea what the title of your post is supposed to mean.Would you be so kind as to explain it?

  6. 6 Peter Lynn

    Where’s Scott when I need him? I titled the post thus specifically for him. Instead, all I get is “Scott Paul”.”Jak mam na imie?” is Polish for “What’s my name?”, give or take a diacritic. I learned this from my former housemate Patryk “The Hat Trick” Baryla (so nicknamed for the feat of sleeping with three girls in one day, which he never actually did, but which we liked to say he did anyway because why should we let facts spoil a good nickname?), who used to amuse us with a routine consisting of dirty-talking inanimate objects. “Jak mam na imie, doorway?” he’d say while rubbing and thrusting his crotch up against a door jamb.

  7. 7 Scott

    Hmm. I have no idea how it should be written but I remember that it used to sound more like “Tso yest moya eemyeh”.Also, it’s important to say that Patryk “scored three chicks in one night” to further the hockey theme.

  8. 8 Peter Lynn

    There are probably a couple of ways to say it. This is how my Polish co-worker Anna translates it.

  9. 9 Kendal

    How long has she been working there for? I’ve been at my new job for two weeks, and the 65 other employees all know my name, thanks to a picture of me emailed around on my first day. I still need to use my map of the office to find people, though.

  10. 10 Peter Lynn

    She’s been there about a month. You just reminded me of an old professor who took a class picture on the first day and wrote everyone’s names under their faces. Congrats on the job, by the way. Although I was under the impression you were, like, 15 or something (albeit precocious).

  11. 11 Kendal

    18, actually! And I’ve been working since I was 15, except now it’s full-time instead of after school.And if I could figure out a ruse with which I could take photos of everyone without looking like a creepy stalker, I would.

  12. 12 Peter Lynn

    An 18-year-old girl, eh? Tell you what: Why don’t you practise by taking a picture of yourself and you can send it to me so I can tell you if your photographic technique is creepy. Wear a cheerleader outfit to provide a proper control for the experiment.

  13. 13 Kendal

    Like I’ve never been asked that before! I don’t have a cheerleader uniform, but I do own half a dozen tartan skirts… is that close enough?

  14. 14 Peter Lynn

    Well, all right, if it’s the best you’ve got.

  15. 15 Kendal

    It’s either that or nude.

  16. 16 Peter Lynn

    I’ll make it easy on you and save you the choice. you can just send both.


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