I have always been in the public eye, or at least conspicuous next to it. Many people think they know me: I have forgotten them or never knew them (I have a terrible memory for names and faces, so I’m not sure which). Plus the things they remember about me are sometimes not what I want be remembered for.
I can’t count the number of times that an MIT alumnus of my era has come up to me and said some variation of “You were so nice to me at The Tech (I’ll wager that never happened to Michael Feirtag).” I was nice to everyone, so it’s hard to remember specific people. I did champion several women on the staff at a time when MIT was only 10% women and The Tech was about 1%.
I’d prefer they remember me for the things I thought were memorable: the time I ran for UMOC, my radio shows (Sam Patch and the New Eugene Oregon Show). Or even the numerous movie reviews I wrote, and the small handful of PSACOT columns. My support for women.
In 10 years of teaching 8th grade U.S. history, I taught 1,000 students. I live in a relatively small town, so I run into them all the time. They inevitably start with, “You were the best teacher I ever had.” Then they go on to remember that my room was cold and dark (deliberately; dark keeps them quiet, cold keeps my at operating temperature). They also remember me giving DVD copies of Groundhog Day as a prize to the best students, and showing it on the last day of school (the day before I played highlights of my game show appearances).
They say viewers feel like they are friends with people on TV since they see those people in their living room. After a decade of doing software reviews for The Computer Chronicles, people would walk up and say hello. I never knew what to say, until my boyhood pal, a wildly successful disk jockey, taught me to say ‘Thank you for watching.”
Then there are the parents. After ascertaining that I am Mr. Schindler, they ask “Do you remember [fill in name]?” First I ask where the student is going to school and how they are doing. Then I always say, “They were a pleasure to have in class,” since most of them were.