TIJ Blog Post – James Gilliard: The Faceless Mob


While there will always be struggles on the course, what bothers me even more is this one I have off the course. Because of my vision issues, facial recognition is extremely hard for me. Not just recognizing someone that isn’t family or a close friend that I haven’t seen frequently, but also putting a name to that face. There are a few exceptions to this – but those people have distinctive characteristics that makes them really easy for me to pick out.

What’s even more frustrating is that while I couldn’t pick someone out of a crowd, once I know who they are, I can remember the most esoteric things and have a great conversation with them. No, I’m not Rainman; and no, I don’t have a photographic memory – just a really good one. Here’s an example of what I mean, and one that anyone can verify:

The last time I was on Kanapali Beach (Maui, HI) was 1991. Either the Shearton or the Westin is directly next to Whaler’s Village (and the other is about a ½ mile down the beach). As you entered Whaler’s Village in 1991 from that hotel, the museum was off to the left and a little booth that sold oysters with pearls was to the right. The back corner on the left-hand side was a local muffin/coffee place, their regional drug store chain and a book store.

My point with all of the above is that almost 25 years later, I could probably draw you a map of how Whaler’s Village looked, but if I don’t see you frequently, I can’t pick you out. Why this is so f’ing frustrating is that there are SO many that have and continue to help me through this journey. I don’t see some of these people constantly, and so when I do, I feel bad that I can’t recognize them. Just one example is Art Black of Oswego Cyclery, whose generous lending of the tandem has been HUGE. I honestly couldn’t pick him out the last time we were in the store – so frustrating.

So the bottom line here is this. If you recognize me, but I don’t recognize you, please re-introduce yourself. It’s not that I’ve forgotten who you are – just my eyes have. And while it’s a struggle, it’s something that I’m continually working on.

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