One of the consequences--some might say benefits--of living in one area for a long time is that, having encountered someone once, there is every possibility you may encounter him or her again.
As someone who has taught in two separate colleges over my career life, I do from time to time encounter former students. My first teaching position was when I was fresh out of graduate school. For a time after I left that teaching position, I would hear from students, usually someone seeking a recommendation to graduate school. I was always touched when the former student would begin with "You may not remember me, but..." Usually I did remember--teachers remember those students who excel, and those who distinguish themselves in some other lesser way.
My more recent teaching position, about which I have written on and off here, ended about two years ago. And, now I am beginning to encounter these students in varying ways.
The first such encounter happened when my husband and I went out to eat--and our server said--You're Mrs. W., aren't you? Of course I replied affirmatively. I thought so, he said, as soon as I heard that voice. My voice?! Apparently, I must have sounded off from time to time with an air of authority. Ahem.
Since then I have encountered several former students--all of them as servers in various restaurants. Well, the economy sometimes leaves no other options for job seekers. That first student I described is working as a teacher's aid providing individual support to a student with special needs. But he also has a young family, so he supplements his income with his weekend serving job.
The other encounters have been mixed. There was one young woman who we encountered who gushed on--oh, yes she gushed--telling first me and then one of our friends who was along with us how wonderful I was as a teacher. Blush blush.
Then there was another server who said--you look familiar. And after a bit, we figured out she had been in one of my classes. She told me her name--which rang no bells at all. Then she told me the nickname she went by when she was in my class. Oh, yes--I remembered. I went home and checked my grade files (yes, I still have them) and found she has gotten a D in the class--not turning in all your required papers will do that.
Well, I recently had one more encounter with a former student. My husband and I were invited to a party given in honor of a cousin once removed who had recently become a father. And along with him would be his partner, who was the baby's mother. When I learned her name, I kept turning it over in my mind. And bells were sounding alarms. Her name was a distinctive one. So back to my student grade files I went, and there it was. She had been one of my students.
When we got to the party, I saw her--yes, I had remembered her. After a bit, she looked at me, and did a bit of a double-take. No doubt, she was thinking--oh no, not her. You see--she failed English Composition--because halfway through the course, she stopped turning in papers. There is no way you can pass when you don't do the work.
Now here she was, the mother of a baby who is a distant relative. And there I was--no doubt NOT her favorite teacher. I bet she didn't gush about me to anyone. But she recognized me. And I decided not to say anything--no point in embarrassing her.
But I thought to myself--oh yes, I remember you.