Do You Know Who I Am?

A student who has taken too much time on an exam shoves his blue book into the middle of the stack.

Claim:   Anonymous student caught working on exam after time has been called shoves his blue book into stack and runs away.



[Brunvand, 1986]

At the close of the final exam, the proctor announced time was up and directed the students to turn their blue books in. One student, hastening to finish a thought, kept scribbling. Finishing, he rushed to the front of the room and handed in his exam book, one of the last to do so.

The proctor said, “I won’t accept this,” and the flabbergasted student asked why. “I told everyone to stop and you kept on going. I can’t accept it.”

The student was aghast. “What’ll happen then?”

“You’ll probably flunk,” shrugged the proctor.

With that, the student drew himself up proudly and asked, “Do you know who I am?”

Unimpressed, the proctor answered, “No.”

The student replied, “Good,” and jammed his blue book into the center of the pile on the desk.

[Collected on the Internet, 1997]

When you turn in an exam in a large lecture class, you are usually required to show your student ID card to the proctor to prove that it’s you who took the test, not a “ringer.” Well, legend has it that a certain student forgot to take his ID card to an exam. He knew that the proctor wouldn’t accept his completed exam without his ID card. So when he finished the exam, he went up to the proctor.

“Do you know who I am?”

“No,” said the proctor.

“Good,” responded the student, who proceeded to grab the stack of completed exams, put his on top, and throw them up into the air, scattering them all over the front of the lecture hall.



  • In some versions the student has to hide his identity because he’s been caught cheating (usually by illicitly using notes).
  • Other versions feature a ringer — a student paid to take the test on behalf of someone else — who obscures his identity when caught to cover for the student who hired him.
  • In some versions the professor giving the exam can’t identify the cheating student because the class is very large (and he therefore doesn’t know every student by sight); in others the test is being given by a proctor who isn’t familiar with any of the test-takers.

Origins:   This is one of two common collegiate legends (along with the Bird Foot exam) whose key element is the anonymity

Do You Know Who I Am?

of students to their instructors; in this tale, as Bronner says, “the cheater in essence punishes the teacher for his lack of attention in such a large class.”

This story has often been told as a joke, set in situations (such as the military) where a superior has authority over a large number of faceless underlings, or any situation involving a large gathering of people. One example of the latter is the following, from a 1950 joke book:

There was a dinner for the new governor. The grizzled old county chairman, who had never seen the new boss, turned to the lady next to him. “Don’t tell me that mug is the governor?”

“I think you’re impudent and crude,” she said icily. “Do you know who I am?”

The county leader shook his head.

“I am the governor’s wife.”

His recovery was instant. “Do you know who I am?”

“No,” she said stiffly.

“Good,” he replied. “My job is still safe.”

Sightings:   A dramatization of this legend was used in an advertisement for Lotto New Zealand. It also appears in the 2002 film Slackers.

Last updated:   16 June 2011


    Bronner, Simon J.   Piled Higher and Deeper.

    Little Rock: August House, 1990.   ISBN 0-87483-154-7   (pp. 32-33).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Mexican Pet.

    New York: W. W. Norton, 1986.   ISBN 0-393-30542-2   (pp. 198-199).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Curses! Broiled Again!

    New York: W. W. Norton, 1989.   ISBN 0-393-30711-5   (pp. 283-284).

    Cerf, Bennett.   Laughter Incorporated.

    Garden City, NY: Garden City Books, 1950   (p. 189).

    Golden, Dr. Francis Leo.   Laughter Is Legal.

    New York: Frederick Fell, 1950   (p. 238).

Also told in:

    Braude, Jacob M.   Complete Speaker’s and Toastmaster’s Library: Human Interest Stories.

    Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1965   (p. 106).

    D’Angelo, Tony.   “How to Get an A on Your Final Exam.”  

    From: Canfield, Jack et al (editors).   Chicken Soup For the College Soul.
        Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1999   ISBN 1-55874-702-8   (pp. 94-96).

    Holt, David and Bill Mooney.   Spiders in the Hairdo.

    Little Rock: August House, 1999.   ISBN 0-87483-525-9   (p. 42).

    The Big Book of Urban Legends.

    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 209).

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