Tonight, I find myself wishing I had answered the question differently, because I remember little of my interviews with celebrities or politicians. The interviews I remember are the ones I did with ordinary people who experienced or accomplished extraordinary things.
I can still quote from some of those interviews.
"Man's inhumanity to man is almost impossible to define."
-That was Conrad, the third American to step into Dachau. I interviewed him when I was 17. I cried with him. He's the only interview subject I ever did that with, because I later I learned to control my emotions as a journalist.
"When I first met her, she was wearing these wild, multicolored sneakers."
-That was a professor, talking about one of her students who had recently passed away. The professor spoke of colors, over and over, a trend that was repeated when I spoke to the mourning parents.
"I guess you feel like you didn't get the job done. If I could do it, I'd go back there again."
-That was Don, talking about the murky end of the Korean War. He remembered vividly the opening days of the war, since he was on duty when the sirens began to blare.
"I'm not sad about it — I'm sorry about it. That's the way the world is now. You have to find your own solutions."
-That was Edna Schneiderman, talking about the first Schneiderman's Furniture she and her husband founded in Meadowlands Minnesota. The store was a staple to several rural communities, and when it closed in 2009 after 40 years of business, it left a hole in the region that can't be filled.
"I can tell you what war is. It's a glorious tribute to the stupidity of man."
-That was John, another veteran from the Korean War from the same story as Don. John's daughter convinced him to speak with me, and he wasn't receptive. But when he said this, he looked me dead in the eyes, and spoke with steel in his voice.
"To me, it's a rush. You don't need to do drugs — just go into a really dark basement. That's the rush. Most people are scared of the dark. I'm not."
-That was Don Larsen, a ghosthunter in Hibbing, who took me on an adventure with his fellow team through the Greyhound Bus Museum one hot summer night in 2009.
"You know what, it's so good to see that. It's so good to hear that, because Cameron can say that to him, and I can't."
-That was Nancy Hukka, a physical therapist, gesturing toward an interaction between amputee-athlete Cameron Clapp and one of her patients, who was struggling with the recent loss of a leg.
"I think all the athletes had a job cutting the grass."
-That was Mary Bryson, the first female editor-in-chief of the Times-Delphic, the Drake newspaper where I cut my chops on writing. She was speaking about life at Drake during the Great Depression.
These are just a fraction of the interviews that were important to me. These are the ones that moved me, that made me laugh out loud, cry, or get so angry at the circumstances.
There are so many quotes I left unwritten. There are more that I didn't quite catch. There will be so many more quotes, so many more turns of phrase that will change me.
I would much rather introduce those kids to any of these people. That way they could hear what it really means to have something to say.