Yesterday I posted about two professors that became my role models. It was not because we agreed with each other. Rather it was because we did not and how they treated me. One of these men died a few years ago. He and his wife were close friends of my parents for many years. The other man is still teaching.
The thing that struck me while I was writing the previous post was that these two men were my formal teachers but I remember very little of what they taught in a formal setting. But I do remember how they treated me over our disagreements.
That thinking opened up a course through the convolutions of my memories -- warped as it may be -- dealing with other people who have influenced my life.
Our neighbors were good friends and really fine people. That's what I knew first and for a long time it was all I knew. But sometime I learned that they were Catholic. That did not mean much to me then. But for a long time I thought that all Catholics must be pretty good people based on the fact that my neighbors were such fine folk.
There was a man whose business was to pick up scrap metal at the company that employed my dad. Every year at Christmas time this man's wife made peanut brittle and he delivered it himself to my dad's office. Dad brought some of it home every year and we all eagerly anticipated the gift. Well it turned out that man and his wife were Jewish. That did not mean much to me then. But I thought all Jewish people must be good folk because of that one couple.
Of course these are all anecdotal and only from a young child's viewpoint.
As an adult though I've had similar experiences including the two professors. Staying with the religious theme there was my experience with a fellow who coached my son in soccer. He and his family were Mormons. That one man and his family made me think quite highly of Mormons.
These experiences are kind of like first impressions in a way I guess. One thing about first impressions is you only get one chance. I know there are many of those chances that I have blown.
I think it is true that each one of us is modeling something for someone whether we know it or not.