First World Problems: A Rose Is A Rose, Unless You Insist It’s A Daisy
First World Problems is a weekly advice column for India’s first world population. Write to Judy (confidentially!) at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve broken a nail, felt a little blue, yellow or green lately,
or had a strange encounter of the any-numbered kind.
PROBLEM: What are your thoughts on forgetting someone’s name after you’ve met them several times in social settings? Is it OK to ask them? I’m terrible with names, and always have this problem with people I don’t meet frequently.
Not if you’ve met them several times. And I say that as someone similarly afflicted. It’s not that I have trouble remembering a name, though, as much as remembering the right name. I have this odd condition where I associate a random name of choice with a very specific face. And I’m so sure of this that when I see them a couple of years later, I end up insisting to them or friends of theirs, “No, your name is not Deepti; it’s Anaida.” That is how certain I am. Sometimes, I even associate someone’s husband with someone else’s wife. So be thankful for small mercies and yes, you could always pick a random name and insist it is theirs like I do. Weirdly, this makes them less upset and more amused.
But, Mindy Kaling feels strongly about your question, so I’ll let her have the last word: “I don’t think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are ‘bad with names.’ No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You make not learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude!'”
PROBLEM: My maid is really old. She’s quite deaf, has an inoperable cataract in one eye, and she talks about heart fluttering in her chest whenever she has to climb a few stairs. I think it’s time for her to retire, but I know she depends on the income and I want to make sure she is taken care of. At the same time, her health is keeping her from cleaning well, and I don’t want to keep paying for a poor service. How do I get her to retire but not keep paying for bad work?
I don’t know.
If you can afford to adopt her or send her away with a generous retirement fund, do that by all means. If you can’t, continue paying for bad work and, after she’s gone, pay for good work. If that’s out of the question too, continue paying for bad work and do everything yourself. It’s what my mother does. And it’s how she ends up in hospital frequently.
I’m sorry, but I’ve given this a lot of thought (you know, to keep my mom from hospital) and the best I could come up with was the entire family pitching in to do what the help is paid to do. Which, of course, was met with resistance and perfectly valid, logical questions. But then again, our help is not old. My mom is.