A 50th anything doesn’t come around very often so it’s not a surprise when your your closest friends and relatives gather to help you celebrate the achievement. This year was my half century mark and to celebrate we all sat around a huge table in a Japanese steak house. The cook had flames shooting up from the grill top while he twirled his knives, flipped eggs into the air and juggled the vegetables. It was a lot of fun but the roar of the restaurant crowd and the constant sizzle of the grill made conversation a challenge. To get anyones attention you had to practically yell out there names and so all night heads turned back and forth straining to hear.
For me, that night, there was no sign of my affliction, no straining to concentrate or fumbling with age old techniques I’ve learned that help hide my impairment. That is, until she walked up. With helium balloons tied to my chair and torn wrapping paper all about I felt two hands on my shoulder and a kind voice saying “Happy Birthday Bug Doctor.” As I whirled about I saw a familiar smiling face that I recognized and that I was genuinely glad to see. It was a customer whom I’ve served for many years. But that gladness disappeared almost as instantly as it came when my long time ailment reared its ugly head & I realized I couldn’t conceal its detrimental effects.
I am a pest control technician, and I have mild cognitive impairment.
In my line of work I get the obligatory “hey don’t breathe that stuff” or “aren’t you afraid of getting cancer?” comments all the time. So it would be easy for one to think that my malady comes as part of the job. In reality however there is no connection-well except for medications or alcohol. (I’ll save that for another confession/I mean article). No my affliction is one shared by millions of people from all walks of life and it is simply. I CAN’T REMEMBER YOUR NAME.
This all comes up because as part of my 50th birthday my family & I went on a cruise. On this massive ship filled with thousands of people we were treated like royalty by our assigned staff. We had Georgiana from Romania as our room stewardess, Evonne from Jamaica and Amir from Portugal as our dining staff and a host of others who tended to our every need. Besides the excellent service, what was most impressive to me was that in less than a day at sea, these people knew ALL of our names. More astonishing, by the second day they learned and committed to memory things we liked and didn’t like. Evonne knew I drank black coffee and Georgiana realized I kept two pair of glasses because I’m always misplacing one. So, right about eye level, everyday when we’d come back from the days excursions, there was my spare set on a shelf conveniently waiting for me when I needed them most. Now these most impressive feats were not only for me and my family but also for 15 or more other families or groups of travelers that they were also assigned to. It truly was amazing.
Over the next seven days we got to know our new friends and their memories just seemed to absorb more and more detail about our lives and preferences. I can’t tell you how important I felt because of the little details that mattered to me seemed to matter so much more to them. It dawned on me that my customers on the route are just like me. They of course want and appreciate great service, but think of how important I could make them feel, how much more secure they’d be with my service knowing that the little things they like, matter to me as well. Now I do this to some extent but my great downfall is seeing a client outside of their home & I can’t for the life of me remember their name. This embarrassing scene has played out many times over the years and although I know them, can recite in detail the outlay of their home and the different infestations they’ve had over the years. I can’t recall the most fundamental, most basic and pleasing aspect of our relationship… remembering their name.
This is when I decided I’d have no more embarrassing moments of cognitive impairment especially for my customers. The life blood of my company is my clients and without them I only have a nice shiny truck but nowhere to go. If I only remember them as a flea job, account # or a dollar sign then I am not as interested in serving them as I pretend to be. This impairment of mine is not a medical condition, (under normal circumstance & in my articles context) it is as best I can tell, a lack of willingness to buckle down and do what’s necessary to train my brain to do what is best not only for my clients, but what is paramount to any growing business. In a word, I’m just to lazy or uninterested to commit to the action that would help bolster my company. That is pitiful and I have (or at least I claim to have) no room for such poor performance in my standard way of doing things. I have got to change!
So if there are any other pest control technicians out there who suffer from mild cognitive impairment. There is hope. Now I don’t the ins and outs but have supplied you with these helpful links of some seemingly reliable people that do. So for me this is a new frontier and if you too have this trouble, let’s band together and accomplish this all important feat. I think our companies will grow because of it. Pest control technicians with mild cognitive impairment- UNITE!