It's a phrase that causes an internal slumping of the shoulders every time I hear it.
Today is no exception. I have given my customary welcome as this visitor enters the house and he has responded with "you don't remember me, do you?" My smile remains constant as I search the filing cabinets of my mind. Is he a volunteer I used to see occasionally at a previous property? Is he a visitor I have had a lengthy chat with a year or two ago? A member of staff I was on a course with some time?
It's no good. The folders in my mental filing cabinets are as blank as my expression. He takes pity on me.
"It's Dave! I service your water filter. It'll be due for another in a couple of weeks."
"Dave! Right! Yes, of course. Sorry, it's because I'm seeing you out of context," I explain, relieved the Visitor Memory Game was over for the moment. Dave still looks a little crestfallen I hadn't remembered him. I feel a little guilty, as if I have somehow chosen not to store the water filter man's face in my memory banks. The problem is I see literally hundreds of people every day. If I remembered all of them I'd have no room left to store important memories like where I put my shoes or how much wine is left in the fridge.
The slightly awkward moment ends as I gratefully spot more visitors approaching the door. "Hello," I smile. "Have you visited before?"
"No, they reply. "It's our first time."
I am genuinely delighted to hear that.