Useless skills

I’m terrible at remembering names.  Absolutely terrible.  To make up for that, I have a superior memory in some pretty useless areas.

I can remember things I’ve eaten.  Like, if you ask me what I had at a restaurant a year ago, I can remember that.  Often I can also remember what everybody else had too.  And sometimes how much each item cost.

I can remember where I read a specific book (in the bathroom, in the tub, on the couch, in my in-laws’ basement etc.).  Not what the book was about mind you, just where I read it.

I can also remember how many comments there were on a post the last time I checked it.  (Maybe this isn’t so useless if it saves a click?  Though usually it doesn’t really because I just hit reload if the number hasn’t changed.  You know, just in case.)

Do you have any completely useless superpowers?

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50 Responses to “Useless skills”

  1. Whoosh Says:

    I often can remember on which page in a textbook a specific concept is described, but can’t necessarily explain it. At least I know exactly where to look it up again.

    • plantingourpennies Says:

      I’m really good at remembering where on a page a specific passage is located, but tend to be bad with names, including authors names. I also tend to remember strings of numbers after using them just a few times – library card numbers, credit card numbers, etc.

      My most useless superpowers are probably my ability to wiggle my ears and touch my tongue to my nose. With the exception of entertaining small children I have yet to find a use for those.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s a good one!

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    I had a great memory when I worked at the funeral home. It seemed like I always knew customer’s phone numbers and addresses. It was probably because I entered them into various computer programs so many times.

    Now my useless skill is limited to the claw game at the grocery store. I think that should be a new Olympic game. I can win a stuffed animal at least half the time- often on the first try. Ironically, I hate stuffed animals.

  3. independentclause Says:

    I remember where in a bookstore/library a book is. (This was extraordinarily useful when I was a bookseller but useless otherwise, especially because it doesn’t work in my own house.)

    I can always see sun dogs.

    I can speak five or six nonsense languages (pig latin, double dutch, etc.).

  4. gwinne Says:

    For years my daughter was convinced I actually had eyes in the back of my head.

  5. Debbie M Says:

    I am one of the world experts at a proprietary degree audit system used at a single university. I’m probably the #1 expert at the old one that is going down next month (otherwise the #2 expert). I’m also probably one of the top five experts on the new one–which will probably be going down within six years like all the other mainframe programs.

    I’m not good with names. Or faces. I’m slightly better with voices (though I can’t recognize them on the phone) and hair. I’m best at remembering the color of a new person’s shirt (though not very good at that, either). Sure, that’s helpful the first day, but after that–not so much!

    I can roll my tongue. Also, if I straighten my legs and relax them, I can slide my kneecaps from side to side (many people can do that one, too). I can bend the far joint on my right ring finger without bending the other joint. I can make that Star Trek sign.

    I’m good at getting lost, though not as good as I used to be.

  6. Foscavista Says:

    In the first ten seconds after it starts, I can tell you which “Golden Girl” episode it is.

  7. hush Says:

    I remember lines from movies like nobody’s business. May we all use our powers for good, and not evil!

  8. becky Says:

    I have a sense of smell that is stronger than a canine’s. A good skill when parenting those under 5 – but a definite liability on public transit.

  9. Steph Says:

    I remember people’s clothes, especially if I see them all the time. I blame this on my tendency to not meet people’s eyes, so I stare at their shoulders/chest if I’m close to them (I’m sure this weirds them out, but I rarely remember when I’m actually with them.) It’s even more true for professors, because I stare at them for a semester (or more) of class. I can still tell you what most of my undergrad professors wore.

    I used to have speed-reading and book-recall superpowers. I used to destroy reading-comp tests in middle school, while reading a whole lot faster than my classmates. I still read fairly fast, but my recall abilities are almost entirely gone now :(

    I can remember where on a page something was written, sometimes color/how it was written if it’s handwritten, though not what page it was on, so I end up flipping through a book looking at the top right corner of every page, for example.

  10. Rented life Says:

    Strong sense of smell, and I can remember what your speech topics were in my class but not your name. I can also remember where I last was thinking about something but not what I was thinking. “I was sitting at my desk when I thought of something to add to our grocery list. No idea what it was.”

  11. Insect Biologist Says:

    When I’m walking through the prairie or the desert, I can see small lizards from many yards away. If I was a herpatologist or ecologist, this might come in handy, but, as an insect scientist, it’s pretty much useless.

  12. Bev Says:

    I can sing the Soviet National Anthem in Russian. Not the Russian anthem–the Soviet one. Not tremendously useful today, especially since I don’t recall enough high-school Russian to ask where’s the nearest bathroom.

    Also, I know how to change the toner in the copier in the department office–but don’t tell anyone! They’ll want me to do it all the time!

  13. Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

    I’m really good at recognizing faces and that makes me good at the Kevin Bacon game. I recognized a guy the other day who was from my home town from over 25 years ago. I didn’t know the context, but I knew I knew him. Sure enough, he was my best friend’s older brother’s boss from the 80s and I was like a tween when I saw him last.

    I’m horrible at names. It’s really annoying that I could be so good at faces, but so bad at names.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m not so good with faces either, which can be very embarrassing at conferences when people don’t wear their nametags. (I’m looking at you, guy who I’ve gotten horribly and embarrassingly mixed up with the same person two summers in a row.)

      • SP Says:

        I’m SO terrible at faces. I swear I suffer from partial face blindness. People I see infrequently should never change their hair significantly between sightings.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Oh man, this last conference there was a woman I didn’t recognize because she changed her hair and her glasses. SO embarrassing. NAMETAGS people!

      • life_of_a_fool Says:

        I have become such a fan of name tags. I wish everyone wore them always. I might think you look familiar, but I will have no idea from where, context, time in my life. . . And yes, I am hopeless with changed hairstyles or facial hair.

  14. Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

    Oh, I’m also double jointed, so I can clasp my hands behind my back and flip them over my head without ever unclasping them. It requires your shoulders to pop in and out of joint though. It creeps people out when I do it.

  15. oil_garlic Says:

    I thought I didn’t have any useless superpower…until I read Foscavista’s comment. I can name any 80s song within 5 seconds of the starting riff, and probably can give you a good description of the music video too.

  16. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    I can give an outstanding conference presentation early in the morning still shittefaced drunke from the night before.

    Actually, I guess that’s not useless.

  17. bogart Says:

    This is not a superpower, but to follow up to an earlier mention I think one of you made: I have now tried 3 sit/stand desk arrangements and all have fallen short (hahahaha) of perfection. One was electronic (moved the desk itself up and down). This was perfection itself except that I proved unwilling to wait the 15 grueling seconds involved in raising/lowering the desk. The other 2 have been arms. Issues: too much wobble (entire unit, screen, keyboard, everything) bounces up and down as a type. Not OK.); too much distance from screen — I am sitting at my newest unit now and the closest I can reasonably get my eyes to the monitor is ~30 inches. With my aging eyes, this does not work. Also, neither of the arm units has really gone high enough to accommodate the stepper I earlier mentioned.

    (It probably sounds like I have a fabulous level of privilege for trying sit/stand desks, and in practical terms I do. But this isn’t a “corner office” effect, it’s a (very) kind office manager together with the fact that many people here are getting them, so when I decide I don’t like one I get to pass it along to the next person who wants one like mine, and try a new one. As noted, so far I’m 0-for-3, though I’m going to move back to the first one I tried and see if it and I can come to an understanding.)

    Just in case any of this info. is useful.

  18. chacha1 Says:

    I believe I have a superpower of compartmentalization, but it doesn’t qualify for this query because it’s not useless. :-) In fact I use it multiple times per day, mostly without thinking about it. This superpower enables me to keep current information, like how many entries we have for the showcase and who they are, or that piece of dialogue I want to add to the novel, or which payments I want to make today, in separate boxes in my brain that are all equally accessible but I can work from one box without interfering with the others.

    A lot of things I have to write down to remember, but once I have written them down I almost never forget them. I do not have a memory like LeBron James, but it’s pretty reliable.

    +1 on Name Tags. Oy, I need people to wear name tags.


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