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  • After only one ring, a very efficient sounding voice responded.

    “Dr. Reiger’s office…how can I help you?”

    The quickness of her response startled him. He thought to himself, “Where to begin? Trying to explain this weird condition to the receptionist will probably be a waste of time, but a stitch in time saves nine. Before scheduling an appointment, I need to know if this bizarre neurological problem falls within the doctor’s area of expertise.”

    He tried the direct approach. “Oh hi ! Hey, I need to see if the doctor has some time this week to see a new patient?”

    “What is the nature of your problem, sir?”

    “She’s so damned efficient,” he thought. “People Really Hate Eating Donuts And Cold Cider…The seven steps in scientific method.”

    He tried another approach. “Yeah, well it’s complicated. Like remembering all five of the Great Lakes – HOMES – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.

    “All of our patients’ problems are complicated sir. That’s the nature of Dr. Reiger’s practice. He only sees people whom he believes are worth his time. Which, by the way, is billed at $500 an hour and, of course, he doesn’t accept any insurance, Medicare and any other third party payer. Is this fee acceptable?”

    “I guess. Yes. I will pay anything! I’m a marketing executive. Did Fred Make Purple Pecan Pie Saturday? Distribution, Finance, Marketing Information, Product, Price, Place and Selling.”

    “Fine. What is this nature of your neurological problem? I will need to get a brief synopsis and present it to the 5 residents who screen Dr. Reiger’s patients. They research the appropriate literature and ascertain if your case is intriguing enough for his publishing company or his development of a new vaccine, device or bio-genetic therapy.”

    “Well, OK. It’s like this. I seem to be unable to speak without including a mnemonic device of some kind. Sometimes they make sense and sometime they just come out randomly, apropos of nothing. Some Say Money Matters But My Big Brother Says Big Brains Matter More - the listing of cranial nerves in order. I can't stop myself. ”

    “Oh, of course. You’re suffering from Mnemonic Syndrome.”

    “There’s a name for this problem? That’s hard to believe. I before E except after C”

    “Yes, it’s common among elementary teachers, medical students, long haul truck drivers and myriad other occupations. The commonality of incidence seems to lie in the requirement to remember virtually useless information, such as the names of the Great Lakes and the listing of the cranial nerves in order.”

    “I can’t tell you how relieved you’ve made me. I thought I was going crazy…like one of my screws was coming loose. Lefty loosey. Righty tighty.”

    “Exactly.”

    “So, can the doctor see me? In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. My girlfriend has left me, I can’t work and my dog won’t even lick my hand. Dog spelled backwards is God.

    “I’m not sure a simple case of Mnemonic Syndrome is quite up to the exacting standards that Dr. Rieger sets.

    “This is ridiculous! Don’t Eat Peanut Cookies Boys…the goals of psychology…describe, explain, predict and control behavior. Put that supercilious quack on the phone right now. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…”

    “I’m sorry sir, Dr. Reiger is not a duck nor a quack and he will not be able to see you. However, don’t despair. Mnemonics are effective at helping people remember trivial details because grouped information is easier to remember than individual points of data. This condition will subside just as soon as you get away from whatever occupation is forcing you to remember useless information. Why not get out and take a nice long walk. The evening looks nice. Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight.”

    “Red sky in the morning, shepherd take warning. You’re right! I can go anywhere. North, East, South or West. Never Eat Soggy Waffles.”

    “Exactly. Goodbye sir.”


    Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons - Memory Board by teclasorg
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