Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm drawing a blank

For the umpteenth time, a student came into my office and launched into discussion expecting me to immediately know what they are talking about and in my head I was thinking (a) who are you and (b) what the hell are you talking about? Partly it may be because I think the human brain can only remember so many names and faces and each time you have  new classes in a new semester, some of those old students just have to be deleted to make space. Partly I think it's because for so many students today the world revolves around them, of course you must know who they are and what they are doing, because they are the center of the universe. But I often get students getting insulted and grumpy that I don't remember very tiny thing about their lives. To be fair we have over 1,800 students in the two majors I advise for at the moment, and can get 20 or 30 come through my door on a busy advising day.

As I discovered last week, I have the same problem in conferences. I have to do a lot of schmoozing and socializing in my job, but often has been the time when I've awkwardly tried to steer the conversation and avoid having to introduce someone, because, I just can't remember their name. Recognise the face, dimly, but who they are and what they do, well it's just a blank. Admittedly sometimes there are mitigating circumstances. For example (a) they have a foreign name or strong accent so I didn't get it; (b) I met them in a loud and rambuctious party and didn't hear; (c) I was drunk; or (d) they were so boring I just tuned out and was day dreaming about lying in my hammock/ dragons/ a new research project idea/ a crush or cutie/ beer. So if I'm at a party with you, and I'm politely chatting to an aquaintance, if I don't automatically introduce them to you, please don't ask me to ...

For those of you who sympathize, here's a song just for you ...

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