Monday, April 04, 2005

A Nation of Strangers

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. C.S. Lewis

I met a guy last night; it is probably someone I should have met ages ago. See, I go into Starbucks almost everyday. I know it sounds pathetic, but I have several friends that work there and it is close to my house. I know pretty much every employee with the exception of the ever-changing newbies and I will usually get to know them pretty quick. In fact, in the 4 years that I have lived in Idaho I have been invited to five Starbucks weddings. I hang out with people there, I have even taken several employees rock climbing. Basically, I'm trying to say I'm there a lot.

In all the time that I spend there, you start to recognize other customers. There is this one person that I see almost every time I have gone for the last six months. I even started to see him at the gym. At Starbucks He is always hard at work studying. You can tell he is in college but he is older for being in college maybe late 20’s to mid 30’s. I have probably seen him over 50 times, yet I don’t even know his name…

It seems somewhat sad; I have heard our country called a "nation of strangers". We continually cross paths yet never meet each other for fear of rejection, or pain, maybe they will ask you for help, God forbid require something of you, require you to listen for a while… maybe invest your life in another person.

There is a Starbucks across town that I go to maybe once a week. Last time I went the girl at the counter knew my drink before I even ordered it, it isn’t even a standard drink and she remembered it. I felt bad… she has taken the time to figure out what I like to drink and I haven’t even taken the time to find out her name. It’s funny talking to my friends that work there, they know tons of customers by their drink.

Have you ever had a little kid walk up to you at a park or restaurant? What is the first thing they usually ask you…? "What’s your name?" they say. Then there mother or father quickly comes over and grabs them and looks up at you and says sorry for bothering you, they have tried to get Johnny to behave but every once in a while he wonders off… Maybe the kid remembers something we forgot a long time ago, maybe he knows that a stranger is a potential friend, someone to play and laugh with, some one that will help you when you have to much to carry, someone who will encourage you and believe in you. Maybe I should have left the guy alone and let him study, not "bothered" him. Maybe I was just like that little kid with the big eyes that simply asks, "What’s your name?" Maybe that little kid is on to something…

21 comments:

Me said...

That is AWESOME. For sure one of the best blog posts that I have ever read. Thanks. You inspired me today!!

Anonymous said...

i agree, that was awesome! you know, just the other day i helped a young man push his broken down car to the side of the road, when a woman honked at us like we were in the way. i'm not saying that young man and i are friends but just helping someone got in the way of that womans busy life. our nation is a nation of strangers who for the most part don't want to meet anyone else because that takes time or whatever. that is sad, maybe that kid at starbucks is your future brother-in-law and his sister will give you life...wishful thinking i guess.

Lord Smert said...

Wow, a very nice entry. I hear there are some kind of blog awards every day that they give out. If I knew the address I would enter this post.

But, you make a fantastic point. It reminds me of this autistic child that comes up to me every day in class and talks to me out of the blue. I barely know him, and our conversation is small talk- but there is something about that "small talk" that I love.

I only wish that small talk was more common among strangers. Who knows how many people we haven’t gotten to know and love because we thing going up to strangers and just saying “hi” is bad behavior.

-Lord Smert (LordSmert.blogspot.com)

cesca said...

What a great post!

ManNMotion said...

My Starbucks is like that too, though I've never been invited to a Starbucks wedding. This reminds me that I miss my favorite Barista. She made the absolute best Frappuccinos, but she moved away.

Rachel said...

I was trying to make the same point on my blog but you did it much more eloquently. I agree but I am also a culprite to the whole problem. I stick to myself most of the time and lately I have not felt all that friendly. I know of my neighbors but don't really know my neighbors (except 2 of them). I wonder if it is a problem of we just don't feel we have time for eachother?

LiVEwiRe said...

Absolutely wonderful post.... it was worth the wait. and it's nice to see that people still think of these things!

Anonymous said...

when I do go out on a limb and try to talk with people my friends always make fun of me and tell me that Im making a fool out of myself. Especially when it is girls, they think that all I want to do is hit on her and take her out, how do you go about meeting new people if you always have to worry about things like this? I love meeting people...why cant we all be friends?

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Wow. You made me want to visit a Starbucks and I don't even like coffee.

Suzanne said...

it's so true. So many people walk the streets, heads down, eyes cast blankly forward not noticing what's around them or bothering to say hi. I don't have that problem, because I tend to strike up conversations easily, but sometimes it looks like people are almost afraid to speak.

Very good post.

Sara said...

I think that in 8 years, in all the places I have lived, I probably actually spoke to a handful of neighbors. In my case, I think it was fear of what they would think of me. How sad.

Kelly said...

A wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the world.

Lydia Daffenberg said...

I enjoyed this post. I posted something similar--my very first blog after my introduction. Anyway, cheers and, what's your name? :-)

Lydia Daffenberg said...

I enjoyed this post. I posted something similar--my very first blog after my introduction. Anyway, cheers and, what's your name? :-)

N said...

The same happens to me at subway (I go there almost everyday for lunch); the guy knows exactly what i'm going to order!
The thing about the 'bothering' issue is that when you try to be friendly with people they might think 'what the hell is his/her business?' so we tend to just let people be...although it's fun to talk to people like that- usually turn out to be rather interesting...that kid's onto something alright :o)

http://pwincessdiaries.blogspot.com

Che said...

A very good post. I'm lucky to live in a friendly city, in a neighborhood where the neighbors always say hello, always take the time to chat, always watch out for one another. I sometimes forget that not everyone is fortunate enough to live in a 'neighborly' neighborhood, and your post reminded me to never take my neighbors for granted.

However, no post, no matter how well-written and inspiring, could ever get me to visit a Starbucks.

I'm glad I ran across your blog today.

Courtney said...

Ever try talking to a stranger in an elevator? I think if people could talk to each other in elevators that would be a huge step in the right direction!

Anonymous said...

nice blog enjoyed it :)

Keep up the excellent work! and i bookmarked u!

so cant wait for ur next post! :)

Thanks!!

Smoke said...

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Guitar Master said...

I wish I could blog as good as you, but what I can do is give you a nice Guitar Lesson!

victor said...

Wow, a very nice entry. its great story ,,
thanks -


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