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May 29, 2012 - Larry DeHays
A person is having dinner in a restaurant with his family when another patron approaches his table and with a hand on his shoulder says, “You know, I’m having the same trouble I had before. What do you think could be wrong?” The first person smiles and replies “I don’t know off hand, but I’ll be happy to look into it for you. Just call my office in the morning for an appointment”. After some more pleasantries the second person walks away. The man’s wife asks “Who that was and what was it about”? The man replies “I haven’t the faintest idea”. His wife nods. She’s used to it by now. This scene is more common than you might imagine. Who do you think is lacking here, the patron who interrupts a person during his dinner out and expects him to remember the details of his situation, or the service provider who does not remember the other man’s situation? The patron remembers every detail, including the money he spent with the provider, so why can’t the provider remember? The provider, who could be a doctor, accountant, lawyer, mechanic, contractor or any other service provider, could have hundreds or even thousands of consumers to remember, but the consumer has only the one provider to remember. The driver only had one car repair job done, the mechanic had many more. You think he should remember your case because you do. Answer me this, though. On the day, months ago, when he did your project, what did you have for breakfast? You can’t remember? You only had one breakfast that day and you can’t remember it? He did a dozen jobs that day and you want him to remember one of them. Are you being reasonable? Should your repair job have been more important than a breakfast? Let’s explore it a little further. In fact, there are some people who have excellent memories and can recall nearly every job, with a little hint to get it started. Then there are the rest of us who have a, uh, wait a minute, I lost my train of thought. Oh yeah, we have a less than stellar memory. Memory is a complicated thing. The study of it is a work in progress, but apparently there are short-term and long-term memories, and retention is dependent on the amount of importance we put on it at the time. It also varies between people, as evidenced by varying eye-witness accounts of the same incident. I have sat in a B. S. session with some old high school buddies and listened to them retell some of our many hi-jinks, and I am amazed at how wrong they are. That wasn’t the way it happened in my memory, but it’s hopeless to try to correct them. They’re bull-headed like that. Always were, as I remember. If I remember the point in this story, it is that lack of instant recall does not mean a lack of concern. A job can require concentration and attention to detail, with repeated quality checking and double checking until it is done, and then mentally dismissed to move on to the next job. You have to clear the brain to concentrate on what you are doing. Multi-tasking is for scatter-brains. The details of the last job are contained in the written records. That’s why records exist. Relying on memory is foolish. I keep a day planner book in my hip pocket to record appointments and such. I absorb the information in it by osmosis through my butt-cheek, I guess. My sons keep telling me I should use my smart-alec phone for this, but I can’t remember how to do it. I can, however, remember our phone number from fifty years ago. (Mohawk 4-6476.)


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