December 31, 2021
I recently walked into a local restaurant and was greeted by five employees shouting my name. Cheers jokes aside, it felt wonderful to be both recognized and welcomed. I know how much effort it takes to process the hundreds of faces encountered in customer service, especially during busy hours – let alone develop a rapport with any of them. And their kindness was the real deal, not tied to my status as a customer. I felt like I belonged there.
This is the kind of familiarity I’ve been striving for since I moved to my town earlier this year. While it’s not the deepest of connections, it feels good to visit a place so often that folks know my name (and what I drink and eat). It says something about the town and the people in it that such things happen at all.
Perhaps the most striking, yet understated, example of this is our post office. After months of getting my mail there, I realized that the clerks now know me by name and my box number by heart. (Again, I don’t see myself being this thoughtful in their position.) What’s more, it turns out that one employee remembers the first time I stopped in to set up my mailbox – before I was even an official community member.
True, it’s partly a function of size and the fact that many people who live in this community also work here. But I don’t think my case is unusual. We make an effort to know one another here, whether or not it’s our goal to become known. I feel welcomed, and welcome.