Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ms. Lop-her’s Neighborhood

This past Saturday I took a trip to the accountant with J and my mom, so we could all three get our personal taxes and my league’s taxes completed. Although it sounds mind numbing, and much unlike something you’d actually want to get up early to do on a Saturday, I had a better time there than I should have – it helps that everyone in the office is derby obsessed, but aside from that we generally just had a good old time, with several instances of laughing so hard we were doubled over and crying.

Afterwards my mom asked me, “Do you know everyone in Baltimore?”

Certainly not, but this got me thinking about all the people outside of my usual friend/coworker group that I have some sort of relationship with on a regular basis, and it was then that I realized I talk to strangers – a lot.

As soon as I leave the house in the morning: strangers. I take all sorts of side and back roads to avoid rush-hour traffic, and one such road is a little alley-type road behind a mom-and-pop bank – you know, the kind that’s named after the neighborhood sub community. More often than not, one of the bank’s workers is outside sipping his coffee, and I’ve taken to waving at him each day. I think it was he that waved at me first. Perhaps he thought I was someone he knew, perhaps he’s just friendly. Either way, we wave and smile at each other nearly every morning.

I get to work and immediately need coffee, but not the “one bean dragged through a mud puddle” shit we have in our break room – I need something stronger, so I head to the deli downstairs where I chat with the guys at the counter and occasionally talk to other patrons who frequent the place like I do. We talk about work, derby, haircuts, and coffee among other things.

When I leave work for the day, I always wave and wish my friend in the ticket booth at the parking garage a good night or weekend. I have no idea what her name is, but I absolutely love her, and I get worried if she’s on vacation and I don’t see her.

Aside from the usual suspects, mentioned above, I also have friends at the bank (both my personal bank and our league’s bank), the post office, the deli counter at my local grocery store, two liquor stores, the pharmacy, and a barrage of restaurants. What can I say, I like people?

As I answered my mom’s question, I explained that the experience we had just had at the tax office was way better than one we would have had at an H&R Block, because it’s a small business, and the people remember us. I really like the sense of community. I like knowing someone everywhere I go. I like feeling like I’m supporting people I know and not just some big corporate conglomerate. We’re all part of a working machine, in a sense, and I like being friendly with the other parts. It makes me happy and generally makes my day better, which is why I’ll continue talking to strangers.

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