Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Adventure Diary of a Muslim-American Hijabi, entry #3

Original entry on March 5, 2014

A lot of my story ideas originate in coffee shops because of all the crazy encounters and experiences. Not all are crazy. Some are kind of sweet.

I needed some time to work on editing, so I decided to head to the nearest coffee shop to work. In this case, the only coffee shop in my area that's open until midnight is Starbucks, which I don't mind because it's always filled with students and teachers studying and working. The baristas all know me and are very kind.

Anyway, the problem is that it's always filled this time of day. I found one empty table next to an older gentleman. I asked if the table was taken, and he shook his head. He wordlessly stood up and moved all his things to the side so that it wasn't in my way.

"Thank you," I smiled at him, but he continued to look at me quietly and expressionless. I put my stuff down and opened my laptop.

"You went to Hillsdale Middle School, right?" His question surprised me.

"Yes, I did. Wow, that was a long time ago." It took me a moment to remember how long it had been.

"No, I remember you."

"It's been over 13 years, sir."

"Yes, I know. I remember you very well. You weren't my student, but you attended class between the classrooms I taught in." I looked at him and tried to remember him.

"Wow, I can't believe you remember that."

"Yes, well, how have you been?"

"Good. I'm doing very well."

"That's good."

I realized then that even though he looked familiar, I couldn't for the life of me remember his name.

"I'm sorry, what's your name?"

"Marc Whitaker."

"Oh! I do remember you! I think you may have had one of my siblings."

"Yes, I taught math. You may have had Henderson or [he mentioned another teacher]."

"No, I had Mrs. Henderson."

"She's not there anymore, but I'm still there."

"My favorite teachers are the ones who are still teaching after all these years. It shows me how much they're dedicated to teaching."

"Yes, well, she retired. I don't know if that was after your time."

"Yes, she did. She retired the year I graduated. I had Henderson, George, Ellis, and... Hund, I think."

"Ellis is still there."

"Yea, I know. She was my favorite. My sister has her now."

"But George now works at [mentioned another place]."

"Wow, I can't believe how long it has been. My brother and sister went through Hillsdale after me, and my youngest sister is still there now."

"What grade?"


"Who does she have?"

"Honestly, I don't remember. I have no idea."

"Hmm, but I definitely remember you."

After our conversation, I texted my siblings to ask them if they remembered him. My sister, who is now in high school, remembered him and excitedly told me he was her honors algebra teacher.

It was crazy to me that Mr. Whitaker still remembered me after all these years, despite never having had me as one of his students. I started wearing hijab the week before eight grade, and I was the only hijabi at that school. I'm aware that I vividly stood out from the other students. Mr. Whitaker hasn't been the only teacher to recognize me since I've moved back here. It's nice to know that I'm remembered, and in a good way, I hope!!!