Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I have an uncanny ability to remember birthdays.  I think it's uncanny because I seem to be unable to remember much of anything else.  With very few exceptions, I can't remember anything verbatim...lines from a movie, words to a song, motivational quotes. Nothing. The worst is jokes.  I am absolutely incapable of telling a joke any more sophisticated than a "knock, knock" joke...and even those I find challenging.  Phone numbers last in my head with barely enough time to dial the phone, and even then I'm chanting it over and over again in hopes that at least the echo will stick in my brain long enough to complete the call.  I was moderately functional when everyone just had one number.  Add mobile phones to the mix and I was overwhelmed. Speed dial has been a great enabler.  I have no hope of getting phone numbers back in my head.  I can live with that. 

In general, I'm lazy with remembering things.  If someone else I know has the information in their head, or has access to it, I free up that space in my brain and trust that I'll ask again if I need it.  Yeah, my co-workers have always loved that little trick. No point in two of us remembering the same thing...

Technology helps immensely.  Google is always there for my lapses in memory.  Thank God for the Google.  The older I get, the fuller my brain stuff, work stuff, kids' stuff.  Something's gotta go.  For me, that tends to be the details of life.  I can accept that.

So, you can see why it's remarkable that I remember birthdays.  ALMOST all of them... It's not really on purpose, although it really does make people happy when I remember, so maybe subconsciously I try.  So let's say with very little effort, I remember.  If I commit it to memory, it sticks.  I remember every co-worker's birthday.  Not just my current co-workers (I'm slowly collecting birthdays in my new job)...All the friends I've worked with, at every job...even my high school job (Mary's April 17), the 3-month temp job (Marjorie's December 13), and the woman who only worked with me less than a year (Ruthann's September 3).  My first friend in school, friends I don't see, friends of the name it.  Someone recently called it my "superpower".  I like the ring of that.  I don't have much super anything, so lame or not, I'll take it. With power comes responsibility (or whatever that quote is)... I'll use it only for good. Yes!

But then along comes the great equalizer...Facebook.  Ordinary people get notified that it's birthday time for their friends...without my help.  Hey! That's my job! It's like they started handing out capes to everyone, so now there goes my superpower. That piece of technology is a little like my kryptonite.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I don't always make a point of telling someone I remembered his or her birthday, so it's a little like a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear.  If I know it's your birthday and don't actually mention it, does it still count?  Perhaps not.  I do my best, and sometimes it works.  Often, really. And occasionally, just occasionally, I miss one.  And I feel AWFUL. But then I think, hey, I'm only human.

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