Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

We live in a relatively anonymous world today. I know, it doesn't seem that way since we're all on Facebook, and blogging or tweeting about every detail of our cats' lives ;) but we don't have a lot of conversations anymore. People avoid eye contact in the elevator, we text instead of call, and a lot of personal questions make us really uncomfortable. Or at least they make ME uncomfortable. I have been pretty old school about my privacy at work. Patients have a general idea of the area I live in, and some of them know I have kids, how old they are, etc. But just try to get an honest answer from me to the question "How are you today?" But I don't believe anyone really wants an honest answer, now do they? Of course I do, but that's kind of my job...

I tend to be kind of shy in my personal life. I get uncomfortable when meeting new people, I worry what they'll think of me, you know, social anxiety 101 here. I have been trying to make more conversation and personal interaction as I go about my day. I will chitchat with the grocery checker, or comment on the weather with the barista, you get the idea. It doesn't come easily, but I feel a little better for having done it, and a couple of times I've been surprised by the super nice people I've talked with. Like the lovely check out woman at the Trader Joe's last week. She just seemed really genuine and put out a great vibe. I left there with vegan minestrone soup and a smile.

Chitchat doesn't always lead to lasting impressions, though. But, I am a creature of habit, and every Monday and Friday I go to one Starbucks, every Tuesday and Thursday another, and the same people work there a lot of the time. I have been keeping this schedule for quite some time now, but last week for the first time, the barista recognized me... He leaned over the bar as I came up to order and asked if I take water in my soy chai or not. Be still my heart, he recognized me! Now, I'm not in love with the barista, but I felt oddly comforted that I was not a random anonymous customer. He has Seen me. Huh. Maybe it's the great vibe I'm putting out there?

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