Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hello...My name is

Today at the post office my daughter walked up to the counter with me, looked at the woman waiting to help us and said,

"Hi, I'm Emma. I'm 4 years old. Almost 5. What's your name?"

The postmistress answered that her name was Liz. This started a nice little chat between all three of us. This was in sharp contrast to the woman earlier at the pizza place who ignored us until I had to ask her to help me buy 2 slices of pizza from her and even then, I could tell I was putting her out.

It got me thinking. A long time ago everyone knew everyone else. A really really long time ago people lived in tribes. Much of your survival was based on your relationship to the group. Even when people lived in small villages and towns this was the case, albeit survival meant something different than catching the big woolly mammoth. If you were an asshole maybe they forgot to tell you about the big hunt the next day.....

Today we are so well automated, so busy, and so insulated that we don't know the people we interact with, buy things from, spend time with on the playground.Most likely we will never see these people again, so why bother? Many times we never see or speak with people when going about our daily lives. You can 't do business with a nod and a handshake anymore because most likely, you don't even know that person.

The community, as a whole, is no longer a place we need in order to survive.

In places where I belong to a group like our wonderful pre-school community, my garden club, the library where they tell me I have books on the hold shelf before I even ask, and my wonderful friends with whom I have had dinner with every month for almost the last 10 years, I am part of something bigger. Part of a whole whose survival depends, in part, on me. (Strictly speaking, it's Bridgett's cooking that determines our dinner group's survival. And ok yes, the library would exist without me, however, the relationship that I have with the women there exists because we are interacting.)

Apparently I want to go where everybody knows my name.....

And I'm thinking the next time I'm in line at the pizza place or somewhere similar I may just say,

"Hi, My name is Christine, I'm 32 years old, almost 33..." ;-)


Stephanie Griffith said...

Great post Christine!

I think the lack of community has a lot to do with why people are so stressed out these days. We're not meant to live such isolated lives. We end up paying people to do what neighbors would naturally have done for each other in past generations. Simple things like watching each others kids, or taking an elderly neighbor to their doctor's appointment.

I have a great sense of community here and that has made such a huge difference in my life. Even just walking into the butcher shop and having everyone know us or going to Crafty Planet and having the owners and workers ask about the baby, or to Wongs where John always asks after my dad makes a difference.

Ellie Kings said...

I agree completely with you, Christine! I truly believe most people have become robots and have forgotten they're human. A sweet hello, a smile, can change someone's mood without you realizing you've made a change! Enjoy your weekend!