On the other hand, I have returned to the den from the kitchen (five steps) to re-ask such burning questions as “did you say you wanted Cream of Chicken or Vegetable Beef soup for lunch?” I’ve caught myself searching for my glasses more than once while wearing them. One time I visited the drive-through at Wendy’s for lunch. I was really irritated when the line didn’t move for five minutes. At least, I was irritated until I realized that I was waiting behind a parked car instead of the drive-through line.
Occasionally, I leave the house knowing I need to go to Store A and “wake up” ten minutes later to realize I sailed past Store A five minutes ago. A similar phenomenon occurs with groceries. I leave the house to go to the grocery store because I need butter. I return to the house thirty minutes later with one hundred dollars’ worth of groceries, but no butter. When I’m writing, I keep the names of the major characters straight without too much trouble, but in the writing zone where my fingers dance over the keyboard with a mind of their own, I might insert the name of a minor character with a moniker such as “Judge _______” or “Greg/Bill” and check their true identity later.
One of the few memory things I am truly good at, for some odd reason, is numbers. Not numbers as in arithmetic, but numbers associated with such things as Social Security, driver’s licenses, and telephones. I remember such numbers easily after only a few uses. I may be the only person left in America who dials phone numbers rather than punching a button on my contacts. It’s easier using the number I already know without having to find the contact.
When I reach a number I don’t know yet, the memory process becomes fascinating. Say, for example, that I have a new phone number I dialed in the morning and then in the afternoon tried to dial from memory. Without exception, when I get the number wrong, I’m only off by one digit (for example, a 6 instead of a 7) or I’ve transposed two numbers (1-8 instead of 8-1). My guess is that my brain is close to storing the information, but hasn’t finished yet.
My absent-mindedness and steel sieve tendencies still kick in from time to time even with numbers. The best candidates for number malfunctions are numbers I’ve known for a long time, but haven’t used for a while. For example, once I forgot the PIN number to my ATM card because, for whatever reason, I hadn’t used the ATM for a while. (This was in the days before debit cards, when all ATM cards let you do was retrieve money from the ATM.) I kept trying to remember for months, but finally broke down and called the bank to get a new number.
The other memory task I’m superb at is books—plots, authors, and titles. I love reading and remember the titles and author’s names of books I enjoyed. Such literary memory storage is useful when I’m trying to locate old favorites I read from the library years ago to keep at my house. All such quests are part of the pre-Kindle era, but a few remain uncompleted.
So what type of memory do you have? Short or long? Strong or weak? Facts, numbers or people’s faces? Let me hear from you!