Hey, Do I Know You?

<B>Steve Hartman</B> Crashes A High School Reunion -- One He Never Attended

This week's commentary is by 60 Minutes Columnist Steve Hartman.
For as long as I can remember, I've been forgetting -- names mostly, although I'm not much better with faces.

In fact, unless I was at your wedding, and you're my brother - the tall one - you might as well assume I have no clue who you are.

Why do we find it so hard to admit we don't remember someone? And is it better to be honest, or just bluff your way through?

These are questions I took to Tucson, Ariz., where I went back for a big Rincon High School class reunion.

I showed up at the reunion with a camera hidden in my glasses, knowing people would have a pretty hard time remembering me from Rincon High School -- mostly because I didn't go to Rincon. I'm from Ohio.

The only people in on this were the organizers, who made me a nametag with my picture, and pointed me to the party.

HARTMAN: Who are you looking for?

WOMAN AT REUNION: Lisa

HARTMAN: Lisa? Outside.

I'm sure there's somebody named Lisa outside. For the next two hours, I would try to blend in as best I could to see how many people would pretend to remember the classmate they never had.

HARTMAN: How are you doing?

MAN AT REUNION: Good. How are you?

HARTMAN: Good. Long time no see.

MAN AT REUNION: Yeah. No kidding.

HARTMAN: How long has it been?

MAN AT REUNION: Well, probably pretty close to 20 years...

HARTMAN: Yeah.

MAN AT REUNION: Probably...right?

Not only did most people remember me, they acted glad to see me.

WOMAN AT REUNION: I recognize the picture.

They remembered classes.

WOMAN AT REUNION: I was thinking we had English one year together.

And crushes.

WOMAN AT REUNION: I thought you were cute. … Yeah.

I was way more popular here than I ever was at my own school.

But only one guy was brutally honest.

HARTMAN: We were in class together. You remember?

MAN AT REUNION: No.

HARTMAN: No?

MAN AT REUNION: No.

You know what? I was kind of hurt. Which is, of course, why we get so frustrated when we can't remember someone's name.

No one wants to make a person feel forgotten -- no matter how unremarkable that person may be.

HARTMAN: Well, my dream is to go back to medical school and come up with a vaccine for polio.

MAN AT REUNION: Huh?

HARTMAN: Yeah.

I'm sure you'll remember this story next time you find yourself staring at a face you can't place. Just as I'm sure that if anybody ever asks you who the reporter was who told it, you'll say, "I have no idea. Some guy (woman) on CNN."


  • Rebecca Leung

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