Friday, June 10, 2016

Yeah, I know you

I am not particularly good with people's names. I don't learn them quickly, but I understand that that's more a function of my will than my brain. When introduced to people I don't immediately start memorizing their name in my head. I don't make the necessary point of remembering who they are.

But there are a lot of repetitions in the library I work at. There are hundreds and hundreds of people I see at least a couple of days each week. Out on the public side of things many of my interactions with patrons involve access to names, checking names, and typing names into a computer. So though by nature I am not a networker, and by what I value I am no great recollecter of names, by vocation I know great numbers of people around here, all throughout the library, by their names and faces, some of them even without any real personal connection.

This is great for magic tricks.

My favorite magic tricks work best with our thriving collection of middle aged and older, lone, crusty, male patrons.

I don't profess to know much of the personal details from this collection of people. I'm sure it's diverse enough in its psychology, circumstance, and income. But by their very category certain things about them are true. They have a lot of free time (they must have to be at the library so much). Their social relationships are limited (I see them often. They are by themselves at all times and are rarely seen talking to or with anyone else). And they operate in their own orbits (working on idiosyncratic personal projects of their own). From these facts I can guess that they are not used to being known, recognized, or considered a part of things. All of this is a guess about them, but I suspect that it is true often enough.

So if someone turns in a lost library card, or perhaps some other name-labeled thing, and I know the man it belongs to, I can often find them in the library, albeit with some searching, and, without ceremony, hand it to them. Astonishment fills their eyes. "You know who I am?" They ask, befuddled, baffled, slightly amazed.

"Of course."

Oh I love that trick.

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