She was a retired teacher trainer whom I've volunteered with for a two-day art event as one of her assistance. I smiled at her, but it was obvious from the way she looked at me and her body language that she didn't recognise me. I let it go and didn't pursue it.
It turned out that she was performing as the closer of the event that night. She read some of her original poetry.
When she went up on stage, I told my friend that was sitting beside me that I knew her.
"I know her. She's a retired teacher trainer." I said. "I worked with her in an event last year. But she doesn't remember me anymore."
My friend glanced at her, then looked at me and said, "But she's definitely glad that you remember her."
That hit me in the feels because of how true that was. She was an educator, and as people who go through hundreds of students year after year, remembering each and every one of your students after you cease to see them daily is a monumental ask.
But teachers always get a warm fuzzy feeling within themselves when former students make themselves known to the their teacher. One feels appreciated, even loved by this simple gesture. Both my parents are experienced teachers, so watching them meeting former students makes this obvious to me. That friend who pointed this out to me at the open mic is also a much more experienced teacher than I am, so that friend knew what she was talking about.
Even with the less-than-one-year of teaching experience I have right now, I am able to catch a glimpse of how that feels like when students that I no longer teach still call me out "Mister Anwar!" when walking around the school compound. I can only imagine how the feeling is compounded when off campus.
Point is, I guess, when you see a former teacher of yours when you're out and about, try to make the effort to say hi to them (but only if it's not an imposition to them). You don't need to sit down and chat for hours recounting the good old days or anything. Just two minutes of asking what's up is more than enough. Chances are, you'll end up making their day.