Archive for Thursday, January 15, 2009

Divided memory causes headaches

January 15, 2009

If you ask me if I know who was the commanding general of the Union army at the first battle of Bull Run or who killed President Garfield, the answer is yes. If you further query me about when Bonner Springs or Edwardsville was incorporated or what the starting lineup of the Bonner Springs High School basketball team was in the 1984 state championship game, again I can perform flawlessly.

Yes, I remember my wedding anniversary date and the birthdays of my children and grandchildren. However, if you want to know the exact location of my keys or where I parked the car at a shopping center, the answer would be quite different.

It seems that I have a very selective memory. I have a great knack for maintaining trivia, but struggle sometimes when it comes to the practical. This problem didn’t come on with advancing age. I know I have always been parking lot-challenged.

Let me illustrate. Years ago, I jumped out of the car and rushed into the Chieftain building to deal with a last minute story or advertisement. As was often the case, I left my keys in the car, which was parked adjacent to the back door of the building. I was still working at 5 p.m. and told the last departing staffer to lock the door as they left. After I finished my work and headed for the door to go home, I discovered that I couldn’t find the keys, and I was locked in the building. After a few minutes of feverishly trashing my office, I remembered the keys were in the car, and I needed help. Well, the simple solution was to call home and have someone come let me out. Now in those olden days before cell phones and call waiting, I spent an hour listening to the frustrating beep-beep-beep of the busy signal, knowing that a daughter was involved in a never-ending conversation. When I finally got through, I was chastised for being late for dinner! After that, I devised a system for solving that problem. When I was alone in the office and locked the door, I always left my key in the inside lock.

Despite a variety of workable plans, I still spend time rummaging around the house searching for keys. My excuse has always been that I’m too busy thinking about other things to remember the practical side of life.

One of my long-time memory shortcomings is the mystery of the missing car in the parking lot. I have spent a great deal of time wandering around parking lots in my life. It isn’t just at big events where my parking places conspire to confuse me. I can go to the lot at Wal-Mart or Price Chopper and spend minutes wandering through a maze of vehicles, knowing that sooner or later I’ll spot my pick-up truck.

Probably the worst experience was more than 20 years ago, when I attended a baseball game at the old Rangers Stadium in Dallas with my son-in-law. We spent nearly an hour walking in circles around the stadium before the car miraculously appeared, although the task was getting simpler by the minute as fans left. The problem was probably caused when we left the stadium at a different exit than the one we entered.

Maybe waiting until the lot clears is the best answer for those of us who are parking lot-challenged. I know when I was in the press box at the Chiefs games, I was busy for about an hour after the game ended. By the time I got to the parking lot, only a few cars were left, and I wasn’t usually lost for more than a few minutes.

I’m not alone when it comes to losing vehicles in parking lots. I have been to many Royals games and watched as pilgrims stumbled through the parking lot questioning if they left their car in K-20, Y-20 or somewhere else. In my case, I’m in such a hurry to get in the stadium that I normally don’t think about parking location until the end of the sixth inning.

Now we have an ally when it comes to finding cars in lots. Many vehicles have remote locking systems, and if you hit the horn, you can have an audio guide to car location. Jean gets frustrated when I make use of the horn. She points out that it is very elderly to need help in finding your car. Well, I am not alone it seems. At a Royals game last summer, I counted at least 10 horns honking as cars called their owners. You have to remember exactly what your horn sounds like, which could be another problem.

Anyway, I will admit that I have a divided memory, and I’m great at trivia. On the other hand, I’ll have no idea where I parked the next time I’m dispatched to the shopping center.


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