It’s a strange idiom, isn’t it, elephants never forget?

Are elephants’ memories remarkable or is it just a human assumption based on their size and expected longevity?

Have any elephants ever recounted to a human very early memories of life in India or a zoo?

The elephant in the corner is another one that we use.

But are we as humans any different?

I don’t think we are.

We never forget.

I don’t and refuse to forget certain things.

But is this elephants’ mimicry a positive or negative trait?

I can’t decide – can you help?

Let’s look at the negative aspects of memory.

If a negative remembrance is so unpleasant, it can affect your behaviour, your thinking, your relationships and life forever.

It’s the memory scab that won’t heal, that you revisit, pick and start the pain of bleeding again.

Wouldn’t that memory best being suppressed and allowed to scab over and disappear?

Conversely, are positive memories good in mitigating say a personal loss of family, friends, a home, a relationship, a job?

Taking memory to a consumer level, debasing perhaps the arguments just laid out, we bought a new car this weekend.

We had the choice of many cars from many dealers, but we chose a specific vehicle at potentially a higher price at a distance less convenient for us.


It was my memory.

That elephant’s memory which refused to forget what the nearer dealer did.

Here’s what they did:

Last year, I pranged my wife’s car in a hasty reversing process, and sackcloth and ashes donned, arranged repair at this dealer. Arriving there, car handed over, I was told there were no courtesy cars, but I could be dropped off in the city centre by one of the dealer’s staff. Fine. 3 hours later, when I got the call to return, I was advised that the car could not be repaired that day and to get back, I was given a bus number, told where to board and where to get off. Big deal, you might think. But. My point is this. That little action of not fixing the car, not providing transport and making me return on a bus, though it caused great banter on Facebook at the time, meant that on Saturday we drove 60 miles not 23 to get the new vehicle. When the salesman rang and asked why we’d gone further away, I explained.

That memory is now healing but it does mean that a decent salesman, with a product we wanted to buy, lost a sale because this elephant refused to forget (or forgive).

I told people, after busgate, too about my experience there and no matter how fancy your website is, how engaging your social media accounts are, how pleasant the showroom and salespeople are, if you put someone on a bus when they were expecting transport like they arrived in, that elephant won’t forget.

Elephants, like humans, live in herds and tell others.

Treat all customers brilliantly – humans and elephants – and that will be your best form of marketing.