While we chat, I'm often frantically filing through my memories for a name. Sometimes the family name comes to mind. Sometimes I get a first name, too, so I can say, "Well, John Smith! How are you doing?" Most times the face is familiar but the name won't come (It usually does after we've gone on a few feet--very frustrating). And sometimes I get nothing.
It really doesn't have a lot to do with how memorable a student was in my classroom, though teachers do tend to remember the really good ones and the really bad ones. Good or bad doesn't matter. They all stop me on the Fourth to say hi.
It might have to do with how much they've changed over the years. Some gain weight. Others lose it. Some change the color of their hair or lose it completely. Some who were shy have found a persona they like better using spa treatments, gym workouts, fashion, or just life experiences. And some have lost themselves in booze, drugs, and cigarettes, making me wonder if they're former students or people I went to high school with.
No matter. I like it when they greet me and enjoy those few seconds of conversation, those quick introductions to spouses, those hugs that indicate that somehow, on at least one day, I made them feel good about themselves.
This year an apparently disgruntled young man sent a FB message that I'd walked right by him on the Fourth without speaking. "Nice seeing you," he wrote with sarcasm dripping from the words.
Give me a break, kid! I taught hundreds of students for dozens of years. If you want to say hi, do it. If I don't remember your name, refresh my memory. But don't expect me to pick you out of a crowd of thousands. We old teachers need a little help.
Post a Comment