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Lapses of memory lead to strange occurences - Bob Paslay

So I am driving up Jonesboro Road the other night after work heading into Atlanta when I look up and the car in front of me coming from Clayton County has a gas nozzle sticking out of the gas tank and the full hose is dragging the ground, the round metal part that goes into the tank is sparking as it clicks against the asphalt road.

I ask myself how anyone could pump gas and then drive off with the hose still in the gas tank, especially with the tank located on the driver's side.

I admit over the course of my life I have done stupid things that required a colossal lapse of memory. I was late for a party once and my gas tank was pretty much on empty. I stopped, rushed in and paid for $10 worth of gas (obviously this was the pre-$1.50 a gallon days) and then I am driving up the road a few miles from the station and glance at my gas gauge. It is empty. I panic and wonder if I have a giant hole in the tank. Then I roll my memory backwards like a video tape. I am still not sure but go back to the station and sheepishly ask. The convenient store clerk already is prepared with the answer. I paid for the gas and then drove off and didn't pump any of it. I have forgotten to get my credit card back after a transaction. I put things away for safe keeping and can't remember where I put them.

But the other night, with all this in my past, I still can't fathom how you can rip the hose from the gas pump and drive off and not know it or hear it or see it. It seems like the commotion would be too great without being aware of it.

I have no idea what the driver of this particular car looked like, whether young or old, man or woman, because they had that stupid dark window coating. I think this dark window thing ranks as one of my least favorite innovations in my lifetime. I don't know who thought it up, I don't know what the point of it was, I curse the day it was ever invented.

Occasionally, friends of mine in their 50s as I am, will pause and ask something simple, allowing that they are have "a senior moment."

I guess as age moves on, you can expect this to occur more and more. I have always prided myself on a great memory, I think mainly because I pay attention to my surroundings.

A friend or someone will say something like, "You didn't tell me about this or that." I will say, Yes I did, don't you remember? You were sitting at Krispy Kreme. You were having the coffee black and the lemon filled donut. Remember you almost spilled some of the lemon fill on your shirt but you caught it at the last minute. The old guy with the gray coat came in and you gave him 50 cents when he asked. I told you about it and you said you weren't surprised.

My friend, without missing a beat, will say, "No I don't remember you telling me."

I am one of those people who goes to the bank card machine once a day or at least every other day. I had this card about two years and had not missed a day of using it and I am on vacation and go to use it and booooiing, I can't remember the code. I try every combination of my birthday, social security number, everything. I panic. I will starve to death, I can't buy presents for friends. Luckily I found a bank and used it as a credit card. You can take a heroin addict's stuff away and he will panic and go nuts, but it is only a fraction of the panic of taking away my debit card. I am worse than the guy who can't immediately find the channel changer. They go into withdrawals. When I got back from vacation I had my bank create a new number for me.

Lately I have taken to keeping a notebook with codes and information on it. Our lives have become more complicated. You need a password to sign onto AOL and another one to access Delta information, a Priceline screen name and password, etc. Friends ask me my home phone number. I can't remember. They say, If you don't want to give it to me that's fine. I say, no really I never call myself and don't know.

I have an older friend who is in his middle 60s and every time I see him in a bar, he says, "So you're from North Carolina." And I say, "No, South Carolina." He proceeds to tell me a story he told me the last time I saw him. It is kind of amusing because I know what's coming.

But true memory loss must be a terrible thing. I hope I never get to that stage. I know with Altzheimer's, it is like watching a friend or family member slowly slip away into darkness. I hope I don't get so forgetful I don't remember to take the gas nozzle out of the car.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor for the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at bpaslay@news-daily.com.