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Response time

When I’m out with people —getting coffee, say— I will invariably run into someone else I know. It happens to everyone; it’s a small world. But I am invariably chastised by my company for not properly introducing them to this interloper before they’ve disappeared.

Jess
You two seemed pretty chummy.
Chris
Well yeah, I’ve known her for like ten years. And in eighth grade I dated her best friend. And Mike dated her other friend for like half a day.
Jess
And you didn’t introduce me to her why?
Chris
Well I would, but for me to do that I’d have to be able to remember her name; and introductions tend to work in such a way that I can’t tell her your name without telling you hers.
Jess
You’ve known her a decade and you can’t remember her name?! Do you remember my name?
Chris
Har Har.

It isn’t rudeness, although that’s exactly what it looks like. The problem is my brain has a seek time measured in minutes and, depending on the subject, a rotational delay of hours. Later that evening I would burst out It’s Rebecca! Her name is Rebecca! and order would be restored, but in the mean time I could either sit around and poll I/O every second and become immensely frustrated, or I could get interrupt-driven on my own ass and just do something else and wait for the penny to drop.

At the same time, I have this wealth of perfectly useless information stored for easy retrieval in short term memory (or RAM, if we want to persist with this metaphor). It makes for interesting dinner conversation, but damned if I can remember anything useful like picking up the dry cleaning. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with my priorities: how often do I bump into some girl I knew in high school and need to introduce her to someone new? Dry-cleaning is another matter. I just need more RAM.