“First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down.”
–George Burns, American comedian
“Hey Mike, is that you?” I yelled from another part of the cafeteria. I was holding a tray of food and preparing to pay for my breakfast at the local Ikea where I meet with other pastors and leaders once a month. Mike glanced in my direction with a confused look on his face. I was worried that I didn’t get his name right. He forced a smile and I could tell he didn’t recognize me at all. Why would he? We had only met once. I yelled my name and the coffee shop were we had briefly met months ago. A light bulb went on in his head and Mike finally recognized who I was—this time with a genuine smile on his face.
Mike is a bus driver for the local transit company. His route runs right next to the coffee shop that I frequent. Sometimes, he gets off his bus to quickly grab a coffee and some food before continuing on his journey. The only reason I met Mike in the first place was because I had once made a kind gesture to him. One day, as Mike was waiting in line behind me at the coffee shop, I noticed that he was frustrated that the line was taking so long. He didn’t want to leave his bus waiting too long at the curb. When it came around to my turn, I told him to go ahead and order first so that he could get out faster. He was very appreciative of it. We spent a few seconds waiting for our food to come out and he noticed that I knew many of the staff by name. He commented on that and I simply told him that I’ve been coming to this shop for years. We briefly shook hands and exchanged names before he headed off.
The only reason I remembered Mike’s name when I encountered him at Ikea was because I actually literally wrote it down in a notebook. I knew I’d probably encounter Mike again at the coffee shop and I wanted to call him by name when I did. I didn’t know I’d be seeing him at Ikea months later. I think he was thrilled (and maybe a little shocked) that someone hollered his name at Ikea. The encounter reminded me of several things: the importance of remembering names, being open to different ways of interacting with people, and simply being brave enough to do something when an opportunity arises. I think God is up to something with Mike and I hope to have a longer conversation with him one day especially about Jesus. It’s not such a far-fetched idea since I already know his name and I’ve seen him twice now.