As a Healthcare IT Consultant, Bruce always prided himself on recognizing faces and remembering names. Little tricks have helped him remember, like repeating the name back to the person. “Hearing or saying the name twice was always good for me,” he said.
Except, for the life of him, he couldn’t remember the name of his neighbor’s friend. He recognized the face but couldn’t put his finger on the name. Under most circumstances, this would be a non-issue. He could just politely ask what his name was, but it was too late for that. It was like the Seinfeld episode, where Jerry dated a woman a few times and suddenly realized he didn’t know her name.
All of this came about when his central AC unit suddenly stopped working during the hottest weekend of the summer.
“It just stopped,” Bruce said. “I did everything I knew I could do, like checking the circuit breakers and the thermostat, but got nothing.”
What they got was an increasingly rising temperature inside their two-floor home in Mount Sinai. Bruce’s regular AC guy George doesn’t work weekends, so he’d have to wait until Monday to call him. They were going to have to make do until then.
Justin, Bruce’s mechanically inclined son, suggested there might be a problem with the capacitors in the air handler. He looked at the equipment, ordered the parts from Amazon and they would have them by Tuesday.
On Monday, Bruce made the call, knowing full well George wouldn’t respond immediately.
Meanwhile, the capacitors arrived as promised on Tuesday and Justin installed them. With the confidence of an engineer and his father’s fingers crossed the whole time, they attempted to start the unit.
“Nothing,” Bruce said.
On Wednesday, Bruce noticed someone unloading boxes on his neighbor Mike and Jessica’s driveway, one of them marked “air handler.” Turns out they were having a new AC unit installed. Bruce recognized the guy unloading the boxes as a friend of Mike’s he met at a backyard get-together.
This was the perfect opportunity to mosey over and ask Mike’s friend about his own AC issue. “I had no idea what his name was,” Bruce said, “But I needed to talk to him. So, I just pulled out the old standby of ‘Hey! How ya doing?’ I figured it would be a five-minute conversation.”
After talking for those five minutes, he offered to look at it for Bruce after finishing at Mike’s. What was Bruce going to call him when he saw him again?
The AC guy with no name stopped by around 9:15 p.m. He was exhausted and apologetic, promising to return the next day. With two meetings behind them, Bruce still didn’t know his name. Later that evening, he resorted to checking his neighbor Jessica’s friends listing on Facebook to see if he could locate that familiar face in a photograph. Alas, she had more than 600 friends.
On Thursday morning, He-who-had-no-name showed up as promised. It took him only about 20 minutes to determine that a fuse inside the air handler needed to be replaced. During that time, Bruce called him “Ace,” “Chief,” “Pal” and whatever other pronoun he could think of while being polite.
Coincidentally, the AC guy with a name (George) called to tell Bruce it sounds like there is a problem with a fuse. Thanks for nothing, George.
When the AC kicked on, Bruce gave him some cash for the effort and they promised to have a beer at the next get-together. “Call me any time you have a problem,” he told Bruce, who wished he knew what to call him.
Later that day, he saw his neighbor Jessica in the driveway. Before he could ask about the AC guy’s name, she blurted out, “Isn’t Brian great?”
Bruce’s AC unit is past its life expectancy. When it finally does go, he knows he can call a guy named Brian.
There’s no chance he forgets his name.
Paul DiSclafani’s new book, A View From The Bench, is a collection of his favorite Long Island Living columns. It’s available wherever books are sold.