Smile and nod

Yesterday I attended The Edge-Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Rat Race 2008 for the first time, and it was quite an experience, and one which I am heartily grateful only happens once a year, even if it’s for a good cause. The sight of people running in their corporate attire was really quite amusing, and  even a little endearing when they were milling around before the race began, because it shed a new light — for me at least — on these corporate figures and showed that they could do something other than sit at their desks all day (Note: this does not include the team from Fitness First, as they were personal trainers and yesterday’s race was peanuts for them, if their gold medal was any indication). Never mind that the supporters were standing around in the debilitating heat trying to get a good view of the runners.

Then at one point, I was walking back to the RHB supporters when one of the runners I passed said, “Sandra! You’re Sandra, right?”

Thinking it was one of the RHB runners, I plastered on my public relations smile and said, “Hi!” And then my eyes swooped down to the label on the front of his shirt, and to my dismay, it read SCO, to represent Scomi Group, and not RHB. Immediately my expression shifted and I said, “Yes?”

“I’m Arif!” he said, with what may actually have been a genuine good-to-see-you-again smile.

I had no idea who he was. “Who?”

“Arif. Arif. From INTI. I met you at Talent Night!” he said, as though that explained it all. And still my mind drew a blank.

In my defence, that must have been at least five years ago. Nevertheless, I was mortified that this man who had not seen me in five years was standing in front of me calling me by name, and there I was not knowing who on God’s green earth he was, and failing in all attempts to dredge up the foggiest memory of him. Fortunately he was nice enough to exchange cards and say that he would email me to ‘catch up’, although what there is to catch up on with someone you don’t remember is beyond me.

One of the lessons I’ve learnt from this job that I was able to put to good use was to smile, always, always smile, especially when in doubt. And one more lesson to add to the ever-growing list that I learnt yesterday — especially after that run-in which left me feeling quite sheepish — was to never assume that people would not remember me (although I think that was a one-in-a-million encounter).

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