A former colleague of mine doesn’t like to encounter students when he’s out and about living his life. He’s so paranoid about students seeing him with his significant other that he makes her walk several steps behind him when they walk around the neighborhood.
The sad part is, although I find that a bit extreme, I actually kind of understand it.
There are few things as awkward as eating at a restaurant when a group of your students are around. They sneak pictures and talk about you (at least for a few seconds) and then snicker as you leave. I remember encountering teachers “in the wild” when I was a kid and I also remember immediately scanning their grocery carts for things like beer and cigarettes.
Last night, however, I had the unusual experience of encountering former students when both of us had been drinking.
Because it’s the end of the school year and is the Christmas season, a bunch of us decided to have an impromptu Forget Year Party with some of the Japanese staff. We chose, for reasons I had nothing to do with, to go drinking at the HUB, which is a chain of faux British pubs that serve fish and chips, Guinness, and other tasty forms of beer.
The HUB we chose happened to be near the main branch of the university partially fed by the school where we work. As result, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by college students which, for better and for worse, prompted me to do a tequila shot from a tray being carried around by a waiter. However, because it’s a British pub, and, well, there’s no cultural reason whatsoever to do tequila shots in a British pub, I was given neither salt nor lime.
After that shot, I was informed that several former students were in the pub. Including three directly behind me. This led to conversations with the students, who were drinking yard long glasses of Mojitos (which are also, not technically part of British culture).
I pointed out I could remember their faces but not their names. I said this was because while I grew old, they grew up. A couple of them wanted their pictures taken with me and, having had a couple pints of beer, a Bloody Mary and a tequila shot, my usual aversion to such encounters went away and I volunteered.
Now, I wonder if that was a good idea.