I generally like to bump into old classmates who I haven’t seen in a while, despite the fact that their gray hairs usually mirror the ones in mine. The faces are familiar, but some names escape me. There have been one or two people who, even though they haven’t seen me in years, remember my name – and I wasn’t ever the most popular girl in school.
But maybe it’s my memory that’s bad.
I feel awful when I can’t attach that person’s name to my return greeting, because I know how good it feels to be called by name. And I’m embarrassed when I have to struggle to remember where I’ve met the person before. Did I go to high school with her? Did I meet her in college? Was she the teller that served me in the bank a few days ago? Or was she the person I introduced myself to when she cut me off in traffic?
Last week, I met a former classmate when he came into my place of business. I hadn’t seen this person in years, but he instantly looked familiar. And this time I knew exactly at which institution we had crossed paths. We recognized each other at the same time. He said my name, and as usual, I was struggling to say his. Luckily, I kept my eyes trained on his lips and I was able to say his name just as it came spilling out of his mouth.
Anyway, he was in a spot of difficulty and was hoping that I could help him. Unfortunately, I couldn’t assist with exactly what he wanted, but I did have an item that would tide him over. So I agreed to lend it to him and he promised to get it back to me a few hours later.
It took four days and two phone calls before I got my property back. Since I “remembered” his name, I was able to scour the phone book to get his number. Because if he thought that he was going to be getting a free what-ya-ma-call-it from someone that he used to know, he was quite mistaken.
This borrowing without bothering to give back is something that’s plagued my children’s classrooms as well – and they’ve unfortunately been the ones on the giving end. Sometimes, if they aren’t diligent in asking for what is theirs, they may not ever get it back. I, however, was not going out like that.
When my former classmate finally returned the item, he gave his apologies, but he didn’t even, as we say, have the grace to look embarrassed. And he didn’t bother to offer an explanation either.
I had planned on giving him a piece of my mind, but I didn’t feel up to teaching a lesson that day.
However, I learned mine.