Innocent chat. A friendly face approaches you and starts up a conversation. Strangely, this person seems to know a whole lot about you. They ask about how your family is doing, if you’re still working at the same place, and what your plans are for the upcoming holiday. The more they talk, the more confused you become over their identity.
For whatever reason, your mind decided to not commit this person to memory. You can remember every jingle from the 1990s (Sometimes you feel like a nut! Sometimes you don’t!) But this person leaves you at a complete loss. You hope that you’ll experience a moment of clarity and this person’s identity will come speeding towards the forefront of your memory.
You get yourself through the conversation one confused smile at a time. You answer in generalities and exaggerated head movements. Your eye contact is fleeting as you are studying that face for recognition that just won’t come.
At one point you start to realize how one-sided the conversation has become and make a tactical decision to try and reverse the line of questioning. You want to throw them off the scent of your baffled state and hope to gather clues about who you are talking to. The conversation has long since passed the point where you could ask for identification in any subtle way. You have to resolve yourself to the awkwardness that will taint the conversation and likely the rest of your day.
We’ve all been there. Regardless if the recognition ever comes or not, it is embarrassing to not remember a whole person. This person who actually remembered you and actually wanted to talk to you… unlike your typical moment of recognition followed by multiple maneuvers to avoid eye contact.
Try to appreciate the conversation for what it is, an act of kindness. This is someone reaching out for social contact. Maybe they have been feeling lonely, had a particularly difficult day, or feel unwanted. Be kind, smile, and let them be the ones to end the conversation. Then go home and stalk social media in an attempt to not be ambushed again.