“You betcha,” I say cheerfully, already practicing my best customer-service-friendly voice.My first day back is almost like I never left. Yep, there’s my buddy Stacy selling pans. Gina is restocking food hall. Lisa is ringing up customers and bagging their purchases.
My manager approaches me. “MOV, we have a few new people I’d like to introduce you to,” she says, gesturing to two men I have never seen before. “This is Don, and this is Mike.”That is when it happens. My mind permanently reverses their names, as it consistently does when I meet two people at the exact same moment in time.
Don is 6’5 and African-American. He is gorgeous and looks like a basketball player or a bouncer at a really chic club.Mike weighs 300 pounds and is bald. He is approaching retirement age. His orange tie has a coffee stain on it.
“Nice to meet you,” I say. Don and Mike Don and Mike Don and Mike. Which is which?I force myself to make up a mnemonic device to remember who is who. Debonair Don and Mediocre Mike. Well, that is not very nice. Debonair Don and Mere Mortal Mike. Wait—or is it Dowdy Don and Magnificent Mike?
I do what I always do in a situation like this: fake my way thru it.“Hi Don and Mike!” I enthuse anytime I see them standing near each other, or thank God, chatting with one another. If one wanders off to help a customer, though, I am ruined.
“I keep confusing Don and Mike,” I confide to Lisa later when we are between customers at the cash register.She laughs heartily. “Don and Mike?! Are you kidding me? There could not be two more different people.” She shakes her head, thinking I am joking.
“No, seriously, I met them at the same time. Now I can’t tell which is which.”“MOV, come on. They look nothing alike.”
“That’s doesn't matter: I met them at the same time,” I repeat this little fact as if it should explain everything and earn me some major compassion points. Oh, she met them at the same time! Of course!“Then just do what I do: look at their nametags.”
I am suddenly grateful that the high-end kitchen store requires all employees to wear nametags.Don/Mike walks over to me to ask a question about coffee makers. I glance at his apron where his nametag should be. I am stymied by its absence. He notices I am staring.
“What’s wrong, MOV?” he inquires, making me feel instantly terrible since he remembered my name.“You forgot your nametag!” I blurt out. Then, fumbling to save the situation, I hastily add, “Corporate requires it.”
“Oh, I know. The manager ordered one for me, I’ll have it next week.” He smiles wide, revealing his beautiful Don/Mike teeth.I’m hopeless. I resign myself to the fact that I will be stuck calling him “Hey You” in the break room for another week or possibly eternity if his nametag gets lost in the mail.
Well, at least I know everyone else’s name. “Nice job with food hall, Gina!” I love sharing compliments with my good friends.Gina turns around and scowls at me. “MOV, how many times do I have to tell you my name is Stacy?”