December 14, 2011

Inventions S1E04: The Spelling Bee Trick

You’re walking on the road minding your own business when someone stops and says, “Hey, how are you? Remember me?” 

The person looks mildly familiar but you can’t really assign a name to that face. You don’t want to sound rude in the middle of the road, so you reply enthusiastically, “Of course! How are you? It has been so long!” and go ahead with the conversation hoping to pick up enough hints on the way to identify the friendly stranger. 

This heuristic strategy works well in the average case. You can narrow your options down depending on what kind of questions he asks. If the conversation is circled around your high school, hometown and other things, you can safely assume that he was a childhood friend. Then you throw in a strategic question related to siblings or his parents for more hints until you can make an intelligent guess. 

That is the average case. Sometimes it may happen that even at the end of your small talk, you still have no idea who the other person is. And it is time to exchange phone numbers! That guy enthusiastically tells his mobile number and asks you to give a missed call to his number. You typed down his number in your phone and now you have to type a name. But you don't know the name!

You can’t just type “that dude with long hair” (I have names like that in my phone book) for later reference because he is looking right into your phone, waiting for you to enter his name and then give him a missed call. 

*Awkwardness begins* You started with the good intention of not being rude but now you’re on the verge of looking like an asshole! This is when The Spelling Bee Trick can come to your rescue. 

The Spelling Bee Trick involves two simple steps:

  1. Keep your best “sincerely confused” face 
  2. Ask him, “So how do you spell your name?
It's a good move to make generally. But heuristic techniques always come with caveats. If he turns out to be a Naimish or a Twishmay, you’re safe because he would be used to people asking him how he spells his name and wouldn’t suspect anything foul. 

But such names are sadly rare, there is a good chance that the conversation may end up like this:

I suggest readers to stick to “What is your full name?” instead of “How do you spell your name?” That way you can get away saying “There are a couple of other Rajas in my contact list and I don’t want to be confused.

You're Welcome! 

P.S: Additional Reading -- My First Invention: Leadership by Ineptitude


  1. Haha, has happened to me a few times. Its even funnier when the other person also can only remember your face but cant attach a name!!

  2. Haha... awesome article :-)

    Btw, I am Twishmay. 

  3. well nowadays ppl ask what is ur profile name on fb? fine


don't be lazy