Dear Mindy Maners,
I'm in a crisis. I don't know what to do when I see someone I know, but they don't remember my name. It's embarrassing! Let's just say I've met them before, been properly introduced and even had a conversation with the person, but the next time I see them, they don't remember me!
I might say, "Hello Mr. Doe! How are you doing?" when I run into him at the grocery store, or, worse, at a cocktail party with dressed-up people witnessing my mortification. And Mr. Doe just looks blankly at me with a broad smile and says nothing. He actually feigns a weak "So good to see you!" without ever calling me by name, which is worse than him saying nothing! It's humiliating.
The last time this happened I had just told my entire table how much I loved the "Does" and how much fun I'd had with this particular family over the years. And when Mr. Doe couldn't even call me by name, I felt snubbed. Embarrassed. Disgraced!
In hindsight, I wish I hadn't spoken at all. Maybe just waved across the restaurant. Or maybe not even looked his way. Let Mr. Doe wonder if I even remember who he is.
Not Even Worth Remembering My Name
I'm not sure how old you are, but chances are, I'm older. And wiser. Which is why you're asking me advice in the first place.
I've never been all that good with names, and I have several thousand in my database up in the old noggin. The point is, that file is at tad on the corrupt side, and certain items take a bit of time to access. But that actually has no bearing on this situation, which is completely avoidable.
This particular rule is easy to follow. This one rule is golden, and not just because Ms. Mindy Meaners says so. This one applies all over the world. In every cafe or market or street you may find yourself in. And it has been in effect for centuries. No, millenniums. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that that one son from the bible, the prodigal one, remembered this basic etiquette rule when he returned home. "Hello, Father. Prodigal Son here." And of course the father said, "Of course, I know who you are! Don't be ridiculous!" and welcomed him back with open arms, whereas without that little tip-off, I doubt the father would have had any idea of who the scoundrel even was. And that one mannerly tidbit on the part of the son probably factored in as to why the father accepted him back in the first place. My apologies; I digress.
The correct thing to do, always and everywhere, is to introduce yourself! That's right. Don't think you are so celebrated and important that your name is on the tip of every tongue at all times. Just say, "Hello Ms. Maners! I'm Not-Even!"
Chances are the person you're addressing will shooosh you away like you are ridiculous for introducing yourself, (even if she/he doesn't know who the heck you are) and say of course you are, and give you a hug. Soooo much better for the addressee than floundering around trying futilely to both place the person and come up with a name at the same time.
You can't go wrong on this one, I promise. I greet my own mother the same way as a rule. "Hello Mother. It's Mindy. Meaners." And most of the time she shoooshes me like I'm ridiculous, but it's never awkward. Ever.