There was a time that I believe that, I could recall everyday I have lived. Bob Walkenhorst
I’m a jerk. I have to admit this first thing off the bat before getting into this post. I have been face to face with a HS classmate twice in the past few months and both times acted like I didn’t recognize them. A better man would have said “Hello”.
For someone from a big gigantic super school like Pekin or one of the Peoria schools, that may seem seem like a regular everyday occurrence… But I am from Fairbury… And this person was in my graduating class of 100 or so. I should gladly say “Hi” to anyone from that class. Right?
Well, here’s the rub. I couldn’t remember her name. The first time we bumped into each other at some store in Peoria at the Grande Prairie Mall… It took me a second to calculate that I knew this person. As my mind reeled… I walked away and I tried to remember who she was. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember. I thought about hitting the yearbook when I got home, because it finally clicked this was someone from High School. I promptly forgot and didn’t think about it again.
I pride myself in one thing at Fort’s everyday. I have a tremendous memory of all the customers I deal with on a daily basis… I remember customer’s cars, kids, pets from decades ago. So, it pains me when I come across someone who I don’t recall their name or the relationship I have with them. In reality. This seems to be happening more and more as I get older. The quote from Bob Walkenhorst is the truth. I used to remember everything. Now, if I hesitate for a minute when one of my co-workers asks a name… It’s not unusual. Hello Old Hammers? (Inside Stahl joke about Alzheimer’s)
The next time I ran into her was at a restaurant in Peoria. Its one of those small places that everyone turns and looks at you when the door opens… She looked at me… And turned away. I walked in and got in line right behind her.
As I am standing behind her I’m thinking, “Oh my God… What’s here name????” “C’mon Eric, use that massive gray matter you carry around and dig it out”.
I could not recall her name for the life of me. We waited for our food for 15 minutes and the whole time as I am talking to my co-worker I am trying to figure out who my old classmate is. I even brought it up in conversation in hopes that it would help. No luck.
Minutes later, the counter server called out an order name. “Holly”.
Holly? Oh, Holly! I remember now!
Her lunch companion picked up their food right next to our table. I started trying to remember any memories about her. We were never really in the same circle (Ha, to be fair, I didn’t care for too many circles or peer groups back then. It was my way or the highway even if it meant getting my head knocked in.) Holly was one of the kids who came to Fairbury when the consolidation happened to create Prairie Central in 1985. I honestly can’t remember a single event, class or social gathering where we would have been hanging with the same crowd. Still, this is no excuse to ignore this person. On the flipside, I don’t remember any bad blood or ill conceived adolescent boy behaviors that might still show me in a bad light. I should be safe there as well.
My Wife, Angela, has wondered aloud a few times why I am compelled to know how former classmates and colleagues are doing in life. I have gone to a few reunions over the years. I missed my last reunion, but frankly, it was only a five year span from the previous. It didn’t seem like I was missing much. I know how my core friends are doing for the most part. So, why do I care about the “acquaintances”? I think it’s a tribal thing. We all started from the same geographic spot on earth and experienced similar pains and duress though High School. It’s interesting to see what we have done with our lives from there.
Holly and I bumped into each other twice in Peoria within months. I could not ignore this. As I ate my lunch, I was feeling compelled to say “Hello”. The thought was, I will stop by here table as we are walking out… Unfortunately, she was up and out before I had a chance. I could have chased her, but I was not THAT compelled!
It won’t happen a third time. (If there is one) As for everyone else: Hello! I hope you are having a great life. If you see me. Say Hi.