My Old Buddy, Jeff JacksonPosted: January 28, 2013
The fans were streaming toward the exit after another loss by the home team. I wasn’t paying attention to anyone in particular, just watching the wave of disappointed humanity go by. Then, without warning, it happened.
A man came out of the crowd. He yelled over all the other voices around us…
I haven’t seen you in forever, what’s up man?
As he approached, I saw the look of recognition on his face and my mind went to work identifying him. I decided he was Jeff Jackson. I’d worked with him years ago, we’d gone different directions in our careers. Jeff was about ten years older than me and had retired a few years back.
Jeff burst out of the crowd, shook my hand and gave me a hug.
How’s it going? How are all the kids?
“Easy mistake for him to make”, I thought, then I told him that there was just the one and he was doing very well in college. Jeff expressed surprise that I had a college aged son. That struck me funny. He’s someone who should have a pretty good sense of how old I am.
Like a lot of people, Jeff looked better than when he’d been working. He looked healthier, well rested, less stressed. We shook hands and he started back into the crowd. I looked at him one more time and thought, “no way he looks that much better.” As I was starting to form the idea that perhaps I’d misidentified him I saw the woman he was with look back and point back toward me.
He looked back, then looked again and shrugged as if to tell her “I don’t know”.
I’m terrible with names, but I understand people and how they communicate. Everything about this faux Jeff Jackson’s voice and expression said he knew who I was and was happy to see me. I’m confident he believed he knew me, as confident as I now am that I am not who he thought I was and that he isn’t my old co-worker.
You know, it is hard enough getting old without other old people influencing my faulty memory with their faulty memories.
I guess we both probably have good stories to tell about reuniting with someone we never knew. I wonder if faux Jeff wrote his tale down before he forgot it.