I know your name…what is it?”


By Bill Derby

When I was in junior high school at North Junior High, after school was out we crossed the street to enjoy a coke and bag of chips at the Hospital Pharmacy lunch counter. When the weather was nice we lounged on the wall outside the pharmacy drinking and eating.

Tyson Jones, our principal, probably thought we were hurting the pharmacy’s business and many times walked across the street to run us off. He liked to take names of multiple offenders. I will never forget what he yelled to us as he hurried across Roan St. traffic to catch us.  “I know your name…what is it?”

Of course none of us volunteered our monikers. We scattered like the wind. If apprehended it was a quick visit to Tyson’s office for a meeting with his famous paddle.

I understand now why Tyson Jones used that phrase. I can’t remember names either. Every time I see someone who knows me and I don’t recall their name immediately I want to blurt out, “I know your name…what is it?”

When I was traveling in North Carolina near North Wilkesboro a couple of weeks ago I was trying to remember the name of the Lowe’s advertising director I used to call on. I had even played golf with him and considered him a friend. That was in the mid-1970’s. I couldn’t for the life of me remember his name. Coming home a few days later driving by the same spot, there it was, finally exposed by my aging brain cells. I remembered his name, Alex Busick.

Just last week Judy and I were shopping. She had used my name out loud like, “Hey Bill, I have what we need. It’s time to go!”

The next second someone yelled, “Hey, Bill Derby, how are you doing?”

The gentleman told me he wasn’t sure if it was I or not until he heard my wife say my name. We exchanged pleasantries. He introduced himself to me like we were long lost buddies. Judy was motoring out the store. I told him it was good to see him again and walked out.

I didn’t know him from Adam. I didn’t recognize him. I couldn’t recall ever in my life meeting him. I was dumbfounded.

When we got in the car I told Judy about the encounter. He had told me his name, Joey Kerns, and I think he said he was from Boones Creek. I wasn’t sure about that since my bad ear was turned his way.

We drove down the highway. Hmm…. Joey Kerns…..Hmm. It was frustrating. He knew me. I didn’t remember him.

After a few minutes of trying to get my brain to function, I vaguely recalled my grammar school friends when I lived in Kingsport. Heck, it was only 62 years ago.

All of a sudden it came back to me. Joey and I were buddies in Kingsport’s Washington Elementary School in Miss Manning’s fourth grade class. I have tried to place his face in our class picture. It’s almost coming to me even today, but not yet.

I felt bad about not remembering him. As soon as we got home I decided to try and call him to apologize for not recognizing him. I couldn’t find his phone number.  Maybe someone knows Joey Kerns locally and will tell him to give me a call. I hope so.

It’s a terrible thing to be talking with someone and not remember their name. Makes me feel really stupid. It’s a fault I’m working on right now to correct. I ran across a few helpful hints for remembering names.


•  Focus- You want to send a positive message to the person you’re meeting. Pay attention and let them know they have your undivided attention. Look directly into their eyes.

•  Ask- Repeat the name back to the person you’re meeting. Ask if you’ve got it right. It shows you are paying attention.

•  Make sure you know how the person’ name is spelled. It will help cement it in your mind. Cross-reference it with something else like a celebrity’s name that you already know.

•  Say it out loud. Introduce your new acquaintance to someone else. This makes you say the name out loud and fixes it in your memory.

After not seeing someone for 62 years I guess it’s okay to forget a name. Joey Kerns has a fantastic memory. We were grade-school buddies. I wonder if he remembers that redhead who kicked him in the shins on the playground and made him cry. I doubt it.


About Author

Comments are closed.