Every once in a while someone says the perfect thing to me.
A. is a colleague (Friend? I hope so) who I’d been Facebook messaging about British Bakeoff. She was at a planning meeting where I almost lost it, but hid it fairly well, because I was about to emcee a Listening Session in front of a whole bunch of UNI faculty, some of whom were angry, and I was going to be up there as the Face of the committee. A lot of committee members were also going to be there, but I’m was going to be the one up there saying, “This is why we have to do this, and why we shouldn’t grumble.” If I were in the audience, not part of the committee, I’d be grumbling.
I was stressed about it, and as I said, I thought I had hid it well.
She messaged me after the meeting. One line.
“YOU WILL BE STAR BAKER. And if people are mean, I’ll bite them.”
Thank you, A.
He was reading his novel, and his mind wandered, and he realized he had completely lost his place. He turned his eyes to the page, but checked his watch reflexively and realized it was 2:45 and he would have to hurry to get to his Semiconductor class. But he looked around and was disoriented a bit – because the view outside his window didn’t look like Urbana, Illinois and there were laptops everywhere and so he wasn’t in college and hadn’t been in a long time. Confused, he looked for the call button to call the Nice Nurse (Nurse Emma Schmidt “call me Emma”) but after a moment he realized he wasn’t in the hospital, so he hadn’t had that stroke yet and the lack of pain in his hands meant he wouldn’t be having it for quite a while. Then he saw a 20-year-old in a Michigan T-Shirt and remembered that it was 2010 and he was right between the semester where he and Josh wrote the puzzles and he got tenure, and the semester where he taught online the first time. Satisfied, he put down his novel and picked up his new iphone to call his wife and ask to be picked up.
To the strangers I’ve encountered that haven’t forgotten me:
Thank you for remembering me, I hope I was memorable in a positive way.
Thank you for letting me out of the conversation early, I was suddenly in a hurry for reasons so important at the time.
Thank you for staying with the conversation late, I was suddenly depressed for reasons so important at the time.
Thank you for tolerating my exceptional ignorance, I hope I learned from our encounter.
Thank you for not tolerating my exceptional ignorance, I know I learned from that encounter.
Thank you for being part of my early childhood – I carry you with me as well, even though I don’t consciously know it
Thank you for responding to my rudeness peacefully, I hope you receive the same when the day comes that you are rude.
Thank you for helping me matter, I hope I did something to help you matter, too.
Thank you for giving me immortality, I hope I am worthy of it.