back to article Right Dabbsy my old son, you can cram this job right up your BLEEEARRGH

Slinking away early from yet another works leaving party this week, I was reminded with some regret that I will never get one of my own. All those nice words spoken, all those pats on the back, all those clinking glasses of pub house wine. How lovely it must be to be surrounded by so many faithful colleagues celebrating the fact …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Memory for names

    I once worked with a brilliant guy - PhD physicist who had worked in academia and industry - who simply could not remember names. However, a bigger problem was that he never got military ranks, a handicap on MoD projects.

    What I learnt from this is that majors addressed as sergeant find it amusing, sergeants addressed as major feel insulted.

    1. Proud Father
      Facepalm

      Re: Memory for names

      >> sergeants addressed as major feel insulted.

      Don't call me Sir, I work for a living!

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Memory for names

        Don't call me Sir, I work for a living! My Mother taught me that one when I was little, been using it ever since. She's also ex-Navy.

    2. Graham Dawson

      Re: Memory for names

      I suspect they invented the title of Sergeant Major just to troll people like him.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: Memory for names

      I've always had a shocking memory for names.

      About half my working life in the UK was as a freelance with about 100ish clients most of which were very small outfits but kept me busy for 60-70 hours per week. Come the Xmas piss up season I'd bump into most of them at various trade parties along with many other freelances that I'd occasionally work with. As a name-forgetter it was a nightmare. Eventually I figured out a method of avoiding social embarrassment.

      Some total stranger would approach and say "Hey, Mr Coat, haven't seen you since that Merc production. How are you?" This person was probably a production assistant that made me a coffee on a half-day gig some 11 months earlier and I'm supposed to remember their name.

      To avoid looking like a twat I'd just say "I'm good, thanks. Remind again me what your name is". They'd reply "Jim" or whatever so I'd say "I know your first name's Jim. How could I forget that when we had such a laugh on that gig? It's your second name I can't recall. I'm terrible with second names". The coffee-bringer then tells you their second name.

      In a couple of seconds you've gone from socially incompetent tool to having their first and last names and restored your reputation as that nice freelance with the great social skills.

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: Memory for names

        In a couple of seconds you've gone from socially incompetent tool to having their first and last names and restored your reputation as that nice freelance with the great social skills.

        Either that or you've gone to 'that manipulative sociopath who is too narcissistic to think that anyone wouldn't see through that old chestnut'. I sympathise though. I am crap at recognising faces and am forced to rely on proxies such as distinctive jewelry or clothing. If the wheels come off I fall back on self-deprecating humour to mitigate any offence.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Memory for names

          Personally I took the path of developing conversational skills that completely alleviate the necessity of remembering a person's name.

          Unfortunately my wife is a bitch with a twisted sense of humour. At a halloween party surrounded by about 30-40 colleagues (most of whom I'd worked with for at least 2 years) I was chatting in a small group of half a dozen people when my wife chimes in "aren't you going to introduce me", gesturing towards a young lady with whom I had sat opposite for a year and a half.

          I know her name, I knew her name - just not at that particular moment in time. I recalled it later when I was making my wife a cup of tea*

          *with added flavouring >:)

    4. Geoff Campbell

      Re: Memory for names

      Funny you should say that, my very first thought on reading this article was "Don't *ever* get a gig in the MoD".

      Not only is the rank thing a real problem, but the whole organisation works on nicknames, with different social groups using different nicknames for the same person, and everyone in the whole world-wide setup knowing each and every one of these nicknames. Within a week I was a gibbering wreck, hiding under the desk whenever anyone came into the office.

      Which, actually, worked out pretty well. Who knew?

      GJC

    5. Tim99 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Memory for names

      I now live in Australia - It's easy (Monty Python).

    6. Arctic fox
      Happy

      @ Arnaut the less: My late father found himself stationed in the Canal Zone.......

      .........in the Middle East circa 1947. He arrived at HQ just in time to witness the following exchange between the RSM of the regiment and a (very) foolish young subbie who had protested against some criticism that the "Reggie" had subjected him to. "But, but, Sergeant Major" .... "Pardon, you addressed me as Sergeant Major?. Let me make something very clear to you young man, I address you as "Sir" and you address me as "Sir". The difference is that you better fucking well mean it!"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You go to starbucks for your 'coffee'? I want you stand in the corner and think long and hard about what you're doing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There are times when Starbucks is the best choice

      When the other option is 'US Interstate Gas Station' Coffee. All I can say about it is that is it wet and warm.

      What gripes me about Starbucks is that you could be the only customer yet they still want to write your name on the container. WTF is that all about?

      {writing this whilst having brekkie in a 24hr diner in Cheyenne, Wy just off I-80 and the coffee is just about ok}

      1. Cliff

        Re: There are times when Starbucks is the best choice

        What it's about is corporate palliness because some poll showed that customer retention increases x% if staff use the customers names. In America. I can't speak for America (probably very similar, Americans aren't stupid) but in Europe it feels invasive, creepy and insincere.

        What it's not for is identifying whose frothycapudoodah is whose as it's hardly challenging for staff in any other cafeteria to manage day in, day out, without faux camaraderie.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: There are times when Starbucks is the best choice

          "but in Europe it feels invasive, creepy and insincere"

          IMHO that pretty much describes the entire American service industry.

        2. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: There are times when Starbucks is the best choice

          customer retention increases x% if staff use the customers names. In America. I can't speak for America (probably very similar, Americans aren't stupid) but in Europe it feels invasive, creepy and insincere.

          I don't drink the black stuff, but I do buy a sandwich each day. I couldn't give a fuck if the people serving me remember my name (and I'm certainly not telling them), but I do like it when they remember enough that I like the mayonnaise on the bottom slice, then the chicken, bit of bacon on top and then the salad without me having to tell them every day.

          I'd probably start going to a different store if they started asking my name...

        3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: There are times when Starbucks is the best choice

          What it's not for is identifying whose frothycapudoodah is whose

          I think it probably is. Starbuck's is notable for the fact that, however many servers are behind the counter, it takes them so long to make a cup of "coffee" that you have to mill around with a mob of 20 people waiting for their drinks.

          The other thing it's notable for is that nobody's job description includes clearing and cleaning the tables, so you have to eat and drink in a midden of dirty dishes and spillage.

  3. Alan Sharkey

    I thought it was just me that could never remember names. Maybe it's a prerequisite for working in IT?

    Alan (or AL if it makes it easier)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same with me, Gerry.

    2. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Could be worse, try working at Cheers.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I knew someone who was so far beyond hopeless with names and was fully aware of this fact that he voluntarily called everyone Charlie. This was in a retail store and before long, half the staff were responding to Charlie as well as their own names.

      1. G.Y.

        I knew a guy who called everyone Giovanni ; he ended up being (nick)named Giovanni

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I used to be good with girl's names. But I'm hopeless with dates.

      Nowadays every day's a CRAFT day.

      (can't remember a fucking thing)

      1. Cliff

        Working in the movies...

        Some jobs are only ever a bunch of strangers working together for short periods. Thesps don't call people 'darling' through genuine affection, they do it because between personal, stage, nick and character names, it's just easier.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Working in the movies...

          I have known some colleagues for over thirty years, spoken to them daily, remembered their names... and forgotten them the minute one or another of us has changed department. I have difficulty even with household names (e.g. news reporters and presenters that I worked with for years). On the other hand, I can remember the pinouts for chips that I used twenty-five years ago...

          While working in the United Nations building in New York (as you do) I bumped into John Prescott - whom I had last spoken to at least ten years previously in a different bit of the BBC entirely. "Eyup Neil, how's it going?" as soon as he clapped eyes on me.

          I guess that's why I'm an engineer and he's a politician.

          So a beer to all my old colleagues whom I have cut, ignored, slighted, or otherwise offended by not know knowing their names. It's not my fault, honest! I still recognise your faces.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Working in the movies...

            Working with two social workers at university, by the end of the first week they knew by name 200 adolescent students.

            My self, I lived in a shared house with 9 other people, and it was 6-8 weeks before I got the names of the people I was actually living with.

          2. Alistair Dabbs

            Re: Working in the movies...

            >> Eyup Neil

            I think you'll find that he was asking you to "kneel".

      2. Captain DaFt

        "Nowadays every day's a CRAFT day.

        (can't remember a fucking thing)"

        Or, as I tell people, I have chronic CRS. (Can't Remember Shit)

        1. PJF

          Or, as I tell people, I have chronic CRS. (Can't Remember Shit)

          OR Can't Repair S...

          USAF - CRS= Component Repair Squadron

          (Me, OTOH, was CES - Clean Everyone's S.. [Civil Engineering Squadron])

    5. Geoff Campbell

      Yup.

      I reckon it is. Although bizarrely, your's is one of the few I have remembered, having met you once in about 1991. Funny ol' game.

      GJC

    6. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Now picture someone who can't remember names and is blind to ranks. Serving in either the military or a large enterprise. That's me. The former accepted the weird but hyper-competant, and name tags on uniforms helped a lot! The latter wouldn't keep me past probation.

    7. wayne 8

      Everybody knows my name, if only I knew who they were.

      "Who are you and why do you know my name?" is left unsaid.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Being self-employed, this means I would have tell myself to go fuck myself and that I should stick my job up my own arse.

    Instead of an epic leaving party, you get a peptic one?

  5. Nigel Whitfield.

    Xmas is your friend

    This is why I save my casual sex for the holiday season. If you can't remember their name the next morning, just take a crafty peek at their cards.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Xmas is your friend

      Well you know what they say about not looking at the mantlepiece whilst stoking the fire, but you are perhaps much more fortunate!

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Xmas is your friend

      Then you can greet her in the morning with: "So, how was it for you, Grandma?"

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Xmas is your friend

        "So, how was it for you, Grandma?"

        I'm so glad it's been a while since I last ate.

      2. swampdog

        Re: Xmas is your friend

        ..or..

        http://homepage.ntlworld.com/swampdog/pub/parrot.avi

  6. 9Rune5

    I feel your pain

    I have held down my current job for over six years now. Unlike Alistair (sp?) I do remember my colleagues' names. Mostly. Three of my female colleagues had taken a maternity leave at the time I joined the company. When they returned I knew all their names but I am completely unable to make a 1:1 match. Meaning I will get each of their names right given three tries or so. I've mentioned this to one or two other colleagues and they too seem to struggle naming these three women. Not a huge problem as they are already spoken for (and so am I), so there. Maybe I would have made more of an effort if things weren't so, but then again maybe not.

    But: The mobile phone is an invention from hell (or Finland). The poor audio quality means I only manage to catch the caller's name 20% of the time. I recently had a phone conversation where I was trying to set up a skype call with the caller... The amount of relief was quite tangible once we had sorted out my skype id and we could establish a higher quality connection (I should have simply SMSes him my skype id, but I wasn't sure he would manage).

  7. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Redundancy?

    Never mind quitting, you should enquire with yourself as to what redundancy package you would give yourself. You might find yourself to be quite generous. Of course if you decided to make yourself redundant then you'd be obliged to hold a consultation with yourself. Which would be somewhat awkward I'd imagine.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      I do remember a while back having to consult with myself about whether to set up a workplace pension scheme and, in the event of doing so, how the contributions might be divided between employer and employee. I just got a headache.

      Mind you, it sounds like that can be a handy thing to have if you're about to run into Nigel over Christmas...

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Someone I know employed by a small Web design firm has just had to start wearing a post it saying "Paid for by European funding". Government rules eh...

        1. Alistair Dabbs

          >> Paid for by European funding

          Before the London Olympics, I tried to submit my expertise through the government's standard bidding process. I stumbled over the question that asked me whether my company had drawn up an equality and inclusion policy and distributed it to all my employees. Being self-employed, honest and an idiot, I ticked "No", whereupon I was booted out of the bidding process without further warning.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: >> Paid for by European funding

            "whether my company had drawn up an equality and inclusion policy and distributed it to all my employees..."

            Yes, here's mine:

            n/a

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: >> Paid for by European funding

            "I stumbled over the question that asked me whether my company had drawn up an equality and inclusion policy and distributed it to all my employees."

            Every one of your employees had a copy, so where was the problem in ticking the "yes" box? The policy could consist of the words "We adopt best practice in equality and inclusion for all our employees and subcontractors", sign, date, job done.

            (I'm reminded of the story of Alan Turing in WW2 joining the Home Guard and then deciding to leave. He was told he couldn't and was under military law, whereupon he pointed to the bit of the form where it said, in effect, "I understand that I am under military law" and he had written "No." Of course nobody ever read the forms...so he was in the clear.)

    2. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Redundancy?

      Of course if you decided to make yourself redundant then you'd be obliged to hold a consultation with yourself. Which would be somewhat awkward I'd imagine.

      This may be tongue in cheek but it is the legal reality. If you ever set up a limited company you have to have an AGM every year with all the directors there and all shareholders invited. For a single person company that gives you a roll call of one. However the AGM still has to be held and minutes still have to be taken. Certain business operations can only be done following a vote at the AGM.

      OTOH it does provide an excuse to spend a fortune on crap snack food. You justify it to the missus with your director's hat on, in that you have to provide nice nibbles for the shareholders at the AGM.

    3. PNGuinn
      Coat

      @ Martin Summers Re: Redundancy?

      "...then you'd be obliged to hold a consultation with yourself. Which would be somewhat awkward I'd imagine..."

      Even more so if you couldn't remember your own name.....

      John Cleese could make a superb sketch out of that.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Desk name plate and worn name ID for all

    Problem solved

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Desk name plate and worn name ID for all

      People often wear their RFID identification card in a holder on a lanyard round their neck. Some of them put the card in the holder by bringing it up to eye level so they can see the guides. That makes the card upside down for anyone meeting them. Still - reading text upside down is a prerequisite skill when being nosey about what's on your boss's desk.

      1. John 110

        Re: Desk name plate and worn name ID for all

        In the NHS all Lab coats and nurses uniforms have the names on them. For the ladies it's on the chestal area. You spend your day trying to remember names and eventually being forced to try and read what on their left... well I'm sure you get the picture...

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Tim99 Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Desk name plate and worn name ID for all

          Presbyopia has crept up on me and I can't read without glasses. My choices in the chestal area are to either go in close so I can peer at their name within the focussing distance of my glasses or if I am looking above the lenses I can move quickly backwards and squint. Neither option is likely to inspire the confidence of the owner of the chest.

      2. swampdog

        Re: Desk name plate and worn name ID for all

        Methinks Anon is muffling along about girl guides.

      3. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Desk name plate and worn name ID for all

        I have a black T-shirt, unadorned except for a design resembling one of those conference "Hello My Name Is" badges. I wear it to work occasionally, living in foolish hope that a previously un-encountered coworker will say "Hello Mr Inigo Montoya".

        Little things, little minds.

  9. Alister Silver badge

    I blame the parents...

    I mean, come on, who'd give their child a christian name that no-one can spell correctly, never mind Starbucks personnel.

    What kind of stupid name is it, anyway...

    Alistair.

    Alisdair,

    Alastair,

    Alasdair

    Alastaire,

    Alastar,

    Alistaire,

    Alastor,

    Aylastar,

    Alister,

    Alyster,

    Alystaire,

    Allistair,

    Allistor,

    Alystor,

    Aleister.

    Ha, ridiculous! You wouldn't catch me going around with a name like that...

    Oh!

    Hang on, just off for a word with my Dad...

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: I blame the parents...

      It's Gallic for Alexander. Probably originally spelt in runes.

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: I blame the parents...

        "It's Gallic for Alexander. Probably originally spelt in runes."

        It could be worse. I am Bill, William, Willie, Willy, Liam, Will, Guillaume, Guillermo etc.It can get a tad confusing and my nomenclature depends on nationality and even religion. I also prefer if only very close friends or family call me William as it does not sound right from others.

        When I was in the army {1} I used to have bouts of paranoia as the command "fire at will" is very similar to the command "fire at Will"

        1. No joke but my specialty translated into English was thus "Deep Penetration in the Enemy's Rear".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: I blame the parents...

        It's Gallic for Alexander. Probably originally spelt in runes.

        Like this: ᚤᚳᛁᛇᛅᚤᛁᚱ?

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: I blame the parents...

          Like this: ᚤᚳᛁᛇᛅᚤᛁᚱ?

          Ogham?

          Or more like, given the tone of Dabbsy's columns, Oggham...?

      3. Alister Silver badge

        Re: I blame the parents...

        @Alistair Dabbs

        It's Gallic for Alexander. Probably originally spelt in runes.

        Yes mate, I know. I've carried the burden of it for over fifty years...

        Do you find not even family members can spell it properly?

        1. Alistair Dabbs

          Re: I blame the parents...

          >> Do you find not even family members can spell it properly?

          You're joking. Even I can't spell it properly.

          - Staleair

    2. swampdog

      Re: I blame the parents...

      My middle name is "Francis" just in case I turned out to be artistic. Parents. Ha!

    3. Charles Manning

      Hey, are you...

      Al's sister?

    4. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: I blame the parents...

      I mean, come on, who'd give their child a christian name that no-one can spell correctly, never mind Starbucks personnel.

      I totted up all the Claires, Clares and (occasionally) Clairs I knew a few years back and arrived at a figure of 38 different women. Allowing for a few missed off and more I've become acquainted with since it's probably in excess of 50 by now. I don't have a hope in hell of remembering which spelling it is for which. I dated one of them for six years, lived with her for four, still don't know what her name was.

      1. x 7

        Re: I blame the parents...

        " I dated one of them for six years, lived with her for four"

        So you dated her longer than you lived with her? Not an exactly successful relationship.

        So you can rule out her being called Clair Voyant.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          So you can rule out her being called Clair Voyant.

          I knew you were going to write that...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I blame the parents...

        "I mean, come on, who'd give their child a christian name that no-one can spell correctly, never mind Starbucks personnel."

        My parents agreed on a nice simple name for my sister. When my father returned with the birth certificate - that chosen name was the second name. The first name was "Dorennee" (spelling? There's an accent in there somewhere too). It has always been a family joke that no one knows where he plucked that from - and he never told us. My sister has always gone by her middle name - and struggles with officialdom who want to use her first name.

        At her wedding it was the first time many of the guests knew she had a different first name when the vicar reached the wedding vows. They became even more confused when her husband "John" was officially "William Henry". Presumably that was to distinguish him from his father "William Henry".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I blame the parents...

          "Presumably that was to distinguish him from his father "William Henry"."

          In the old days in England people often used to maintain a small pool of children's names over multiple generations. Three generations of my uncle, cousin, and his son in turn were all "William". The family use of "Bill" and "Billy" disambiguated the first two - but not sure about the last one.

          My father was "Francis Thomas" - known as "Tom". His younger only brother was "Thomas Francis" known as "Frank". It always confused me why "Tom" and "Frank" weren't the other way round. They weren't named for their father - who was "Cornelius". Probably a good job the other two children were girls - and they did not share names.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the Taxman

    Trying to collect benefits under 25 different names are we?

    And then doing some "self employed" funny business to avoid paying taxes.

    And that's a loooot of expensive coffees and juices you're drinking there for a pauper.

    An' thinking maybe that hard working civil servants are too narrow minded to read "the Register"

    or too stupid to put allistair and ali G together?

    Well.... We've got you now Mr Dabbs.....and all your names !

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: From the Taxman

      Well.... We've got you now Mr Dabbs.....and all your names !

      ...and your little dawg...

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    It's a corporate thing

    When higher ups can't remember your name, pfffft... they know them. They do it on purpose. It separates the "Administration" from the little people. I think there is even a course for Admin types for this exact skill.

  12. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    This is why I always wear a name badge when I'm working on lots of different sites - I just b***y wish the people there would do the same. "Ian? Sorry, Chris? Where's Shaffaq's desk? Surjan? Surjit? Rajit! That's it, where's his desk? Oh, sorry, *her* desk?"

    Last week I balls up migrating two users on a site called Ian. Not just Ian, but Ian surname-starting-with-L, so their user names were ian-randomnumbers-L-randomnumber. Luckily, Chris H, Chris H and Chris H were on seperate days.

  13. x 7

    Dabbsy

    memory like yours can be early symptoms of dementia.

    Or on the good side it could be due to alcohol abuse.......try taking more water with it

  14. Doctor_Wibble

    Ours were all Pauls

    But none of them were short and grey. Not noticeably anyway.

    CD-ROM latency? Encountered most harshly at points in Half-Life where a level would be entered to the tune of some grim-sounding atmospheric music but unfortunately because the disc had spun down since the previous access you got a juddering opening bar until it had spun back up again. Which might have sucked if the game hadn't been so fckn outstandingly brilliant. And addictive. Fck I think I'm going to have to install it again... I just hope it works on Win7-64 without having to use Steam.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Ours were all Pauls

      I once knew a Sally who was long and tall.

      1. Doctor_Wibble

        Re: Ours were all Pauls

        > I once knew a Sally who was long and tall.

        That sounds suspiciously like the opening line to a rugby song!

        1. toxicdragon

          Re: Ours were all Pauls

          Its a song by little richard, used in the opening to Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon. And probably others.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ours were all Pauls

      I just hope it works on Win7-64 without having to use Steam.

      It does. I dug out my old copy and loaded it up on my "work" laptop (personal property) over the Christmas break. Plays alright on modern Intel graphics. Plus it's possible to install it so the disc isn't necessary, so no CD-ROM latency.

  15. Dr_N Silver badge

    Names: Google Glass

    Is this not the killer App for a Google Glass style gadget?

    Also:

    Are you still not using joke names at Starbucks, Mr Dabbs....? Ivor Biggun ? Mike Hunt ? How can you resist!?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Names: Google Glass

      Would that make him a cult leader?

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Names: Google Glass

      >> Is this not the killer App for a Google Glass style gadget?

      I was thinking more along the lines of a Death Note and Shinigami Eyes but that would mean giving up half of my remaining life, etc.

  16. durandal

    I'm useless with names, which is terrible in my line of work. Good with faces, but only to the 'you seem familiar' point.

    I once went for an early morning Starbucks (yeah, I know. But it was on the way and at 6am my tastebuds are good only for 'salt' and 'burnt') and I said, in response to the question about my name, "err, Rich" (6am, remember).

    This got written up as 'Average'. To this day I'm unsure if this was an insult or an insightful comment.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Meh

      Try to imagine how much worse it is when you are not only unable to remember names, but can't recognize people's faces either (well, for the first couple of dozen times I see them). How much fun do you think it was trying to continue a conversation in the next recess with someone other that the person you started it in the previous one, way back in school...? Yeah, I wish I would be kidding...

  17. frank ly Silver badge

    I though I was ok with names

    I worked for four years in a department where a colleague was called Terry Collins. The next job I had, there was a man called Colin Terry. That really threw me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I though I was ok with names

      "[...] Colin Terry. That really threw me."

      In the early-ish days of company email one could never be sure if people's names appeared in the format of first/family or family/first. Many names seemed viable either way - leading to some exploratory probing, or misnomers, when meeting them.

      It is interesting that when faced with a unisex name - usually an abbreviation like "Alex" - people will usually prefix it with the title "Mr". However some people seem to be conditioned to assume Mrs - not even Miss or Ms - when addressing letters.

  18. tfewster Silver badge

    Post-It note? Miserable amateur!

    When I'm introduced around the office on day one, I make a map for names, distinguishing features*, job title, real job, ranking by tidiness of desk**, smartphone type, football team allegiance, beverage of preference, description of personal beverage holder, etc.

    It may drag the 5-minute tour out a bit, but saves time and pain later.

    * My handwriting is so awful no-one else could read it, so "Hippy" is quite safe - as long as it actually distinguishes them from their colleagues.

    ** The ones with messy desks are generally the go-to guys.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Post-It note? Miserable amateur!

      Upvote for "The ones with messy desks are generally the go-to guys."

      1. peter_dtm

        Re: Post-It note? Miserable amateur!

        which reminds me of the correct reponse to that 'tidy desk; tidy mind' stupidity ..

        empty desk - empty mind

  19. Chris G Silver badge

    Bob!

    I have worked on two or three jobs with a preponderance of Bobs similar to a Not The Nine o Clock News sketch ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU-tuY0Z7nQ

    But the best name story for me was a Hungarian mate I worked with in the '70s, he was married but had at least one other girl a week or more. He called them all Babe, when I asked why, he explained that he talked in his sleep and one night awoke to being hit by sundry household items being thrown at him by his fiery Irish wife. After that he immediately forgot any girl's name and called her Babe thereafter.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The logic professor at Edinburgh ...

    ... who had taught me in the first year, met me on the way to my graduation at the end of the fourth and said "Hello, *name* congratulations on your *degree* " -- he knew the grade, the degree, and my name. I couldn't even place him. Then again I suffer from prosopagnosia - I don't recognise faces easily. I have accosted various blondes in shops thinking they were my wife; and have been caught sneakily perving at my wife thinking it was some other woman. And worst of all, I didn't recognise my dad once when he came to the door (we lived 200 miles apart and I wasn't expecting him).

    On the very rare occasions I think I recognise faces, I get it hopelessly wrong. I was very pleased to have recognised someone in SW19 once, who I was convinced was one of my mature students, her face was so familiar. She wasn't but, bless her, the lady in question did not point out my mistake and chatted very amiably to me for 5 minutes or so and then, when she left, my friends wryly asked how I came to know Zoë Wanamaker.

    My son has the same problem: I took him to parents evening and realized he could not recognize any of his teachers when they were at a desk in the hall rather than in their own rooms. So: if you, like many people, don't like the feeling of recognising the face but not knowing the name, spare a thought for those of us who often don't recognize people out at all!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The logic professor at Edinburgh ...

      "Hello, *name* congratulations on your *degree* "

      Did he have a problem binding variables to SQL parameters?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        binding problem

        LOL

        I don't usually post AC, but this referred to my son.

        *name* to avoid compromising the anon (spotted it just before I posted!)

        *degree* because I fluked a good one and didn't want to look like I was bragging!

  21. Teiwaz Silver badge

    The mobile phone company can never get my name right

    I know they know what it should be, the registration card is right, the top-up card has my correct name on it.

    Anything through the post though, is cocked up in some fashion or another, surname or forename, usually both.

    I'd assume they wanted rid of me because I'm not a big spender, but this started with my first mobile in 1996.

    When it comes to the leaving do, your better off without dealing with them. Marginally better than the yearly company do. From the boss buying rounds of some lethal disgusting cocktail to the staff who've been together for ten years and although polite all year round take the opportunity to make increasingly sharp digs at each other until someones sick under the table.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: The mobile phone company can never get my name right

      Insurance companies always get my name wrong. No, I mean always, throughout my life since the day I was old enough to purchase my first insurance policy (for a stacked stereo system, I recall). I can only assume that it is a deliberate and systematic action to misspell names in a vain hope that it will allow them to wriggle out of paying up if I should ever put in a claim.

  22. keithpeter
    Pint

    Parents...

    I've become good at remembering names - it is a useful survival skill in teaching. If they know that you know their name they will behave better than otherwise...

    Over the years I have taught quite a few students with names similar to famous people and some similar to infamous people. One wonders what the parents were thinking of!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Parents...

      In university, in my first lecture from a person I had never met before, he looked up at me and said ---

      "That will be enough Mr. XXXXX"

      And I knew that he knew who I was, and that he knew who my father was, and that I wouldn't be throwing any more paper airplanes.

      1. Thecowking

        Re: Parents...

        In all fairness, XXXXX is a pretty unusual surname.

        It's more of a middle name in my family.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That article on USB ports just seems like a long-forgotten dream now, you must have ascended.

  24. Novex

    Names I'm pretty useless with, and not the only one it seems.

    Faces on the other hand I can remember easily. If I could address people with a picture of their face from my brain to theirs to show I remember and know them, I'd be fine. However, I don't think taking a picture of them on first meeting and then later on just holding it up on my phone in front of their face as a greeting, would go down very well...

  25. herman Silver badge

    RSD

    Well, it is always a pleasure to meet another honored member of the RSD (Royal Dyslexic Society).

  26. PJF
    Pint

    Names... Faces...

    The most important way to get me to know your name is if you f-up enough!

    We have a high turn-around, usually 6-10 weeks. If I see you 2, or more times in the first, or 4, or so, by the second, I'll remember your name - not in a good way...

    Good way to piss me off.

    If I can't remember your name, don't take it personally, it's just you haven't f'd up enough (yet..) to make a mark on me!

  27. earl grey Silver badge
    Joke

    I must have a different birth name

    But all i remember being called is Arsehole...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I call everyone I work with Dollar User so when I write down their names in my special IT shorthand, the computer expands their name automatically. It very nearly works.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The theory of relativity

    "same job with a different job title to his nephew instead."

    I guess we've all been there and seen that; the employer who believed in the theory of relativity (the one that states "Where there's a job, there's a relative").

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The American way

    Apart form the shdick with the coffee what Americans do well with people's names is use them. They'll actually listen to your name, then use it every time they say anything to you.

    We, on the other hand, in the UK, don't really listen to people's names in the same way, and feel shy about using them too often.

    The American system does work, when I remember to use it.

    1. Nelbert Noggins

      Re: The American way

      That annoys the hell out of me and makes me think they're trying to sell me something. I don't need to keep saying someones name when i'm talking or listening to them in person, because I'm looking at them, not gazing wildly around the room or trying to pretend to be their friend to sell them something.

      I'll use their name if I need to get their attention, but not when talking to them.

      If you really want to un-hinge someone you could maybe constantly use their name and stare over their left shoulder while you talk to them.

  31. OzBob

    Thats a lot of coffee,...

    when you hit 7 million shots, do you get to meet the chief barista of Starbucks and get your name put on a drink?

  32. Stu 18

    great read

    Thanks Andrew,

    Your not half bad at this writing thing. Go to the front middle backish of the class.

  33. x 7

    What Starbucks offers as "coffee" has less in common with real coffee than the dandelion root & sawdust concoctions the Germans offered during WWII.

    If you want coffee, get it from a real coffee company like these guys

    https://www.thecoffeehopper.com/category/1/coffees.htm

    They blend it and grind it to order, while you wait. And the smell as it roasts is just wonderful

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