“HELLO ... it’s me.”
Isn’t that just so annoying?
I don’t mean that Adele song which I actually quite like, although some of my colleagues have threatened to commit hari-kari if they hear it played one more time.
No, I’m talking about that habit some people have of calling you up and revealing the person on the other end of the line is none other than “me”.
When it’s your other half or best friend who you talk to every day heralding their telephonic arrival in such a manner, it’s perfectly normal.
But when it’s a more casual friend or acquaintance and you don’t have a clue who “me” is, it can be irritating rather than endearing.
In these days of caller display and mobile phones flashing the number, name and even a photo of the person calling, it isn’t really an issue ... until you get a call from a number you don’t recognise.
A colleague has one particular friend who always calls and says: “It’s me. Are you at home?” to which he replies. “Er, yes. You’ve just called me on my home number and I answered it.”
Equally as annoying are those who announce themselves by first name only. Particularly if you know a number of people with the same name.
People introducing themselves over the telephone by first name only can be a real problem in a work situation – particularly when you’re a journalist used to speaking to many people during the course of a day.
“It’s Helen. I’m just returning your call,” announced one woman the other day while I racked my brains in vain trying to think which Helen I’d left a message for and about what.
Frankly, my view is you can only get away with calling yourself by just your first name if you’re Kylie, Adele or Madonna.
Even though I don’t know many “Aasmas”, I still feel the need to distinguish who I am by saying: “It’s Aasma Day.”
But at least over the phone, when you don’t instantly recognise who’s calling you, it’s forgivable when you say: “Sorry, Dave who?”
It’s not quite so easy to wriggle out of recognition failure when you come face-to-face with someone who definitely looks familiar, but you can’t for the life of you think where the heck from.
I actually have a pretty good memory – especially when it comes to useless bits of information and random facts and trivia.
But show me a face out of context and it will leave me utterly baffled, thinking: “I know the face, but I don’t have a clue who you are or what your name is!”
This makes me completely useless when it comes to celebrity spotting as my face amnesia makes me think: “I know him. Did I once work with him?”
However, the most embarrassing situation when you bump into someone you recognise whose name you can’t remember is when they clearly know who YOU are.
What on earth do you do when someone enthusiastically trills: “Aasma! How are you?” Play along by pretending you know who they are? Or come clean (and risk offending them) by saying: “I’m sorry. I haven’t the foggiest who you are.”
An alternative is: “I’m sorry, how do I pronounce your name again?” But you’ll feel even more stupid when it turns out to be “Tim”.
If you have someone with you, you can try the tactic: “Have you met my husband?” and wait for Hubby to introduce himself and them in turn to say their name. Genius or what? But things can turn awkward if they stare at you expecting you to make the introductions.
Seeing people out of context is really flummoxing. Such as seeing a doctor without his white coat or a footballer without his kit. (At least footballers helpfully put their names on their tops).
My own solution when faced with this predicament, I’m ashamed to admit, is to fake it.
I do this for purely selfless reasons (and to stop me looking like an idiot) as some people can take it really personally that you don’t remember them.
Also, when you do finally twig who they are, you feel like slapping your own forehead and thinking: “Duh! How could I not have recognised them!”
Instead, I wing it and enter into innocuous dialogue waiting for the grey matter in my head to work out where I know them from....