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“Jeeze, Tom! Do you know everybody in this town?” The grocery store bagger asked me this question because I was holding a conversation with the customer behind me while  at the same time waving hello to a cashier a few aisles down. It took me off guard, not only because I didn’t actually know the other customer, or because I was surprised that the cashier considered me somebody that she knew enough to wave at, but because I don’t generally consider myself a friendly person.

“No, not everybody,” I replied, “there are still a few people. I’m working on it.” I was playing along, because I could see why he would say that. But his question got me thinking about the four employees of that particular grocery store whom I did know by name. And, oddly enough, there were three customers within my field of view whom I also knew.

It was a surreal moment, because I immediately realized that I knew more than those peoples’ names. I actually knew at least a little about each one of them. That man had his only child late in life, and quite unexpectedly. This guy had once been investigated for gang activity, but had pulled his life back from the brink for the sake of his own unexpected son. I’d gone to youth group with that girl when we were young. I grew up with that guy’s big brother.

I felt strange, as if I’d just realized that I’d grown a mustache without noticing. I paid my bill, said hello to two other people on the way out the door, and pushed my groceries out to the car. When had this happened? How do I actually know so many people? Am I friendly? It might be time to re-evaluate my life.



4 thoughts on “Friendly?

  1. Friendly enough to start writing again, liking that.

    Posted by jplanet2012 | 07/04/2014, 11:43 am
  2. First, welcome back. We missed you.

    Second, I never thought of your situation as “being friendly.” In our family, we refer to it as “having connection.” It is the only thing that keeps us here in the area. In California at all, really. There are much nicer, cheaper, better places one could live, work, and raise a family, but it is connection that holds us, whether we like it or not.

    Posted by Anonymous | 07/04/2014, 11:47 am
  3. It’s the small town you’ve lived in for so long! I love that I often run into people I know after living in our current “small” town for only 2 years. I’m looking forward to making those connections when we move to our new, even smaller small town.

    Posted by improvisingmom | 07/06/2014, 3:48 pm
  4. interesting! so glad to see you sharing your words in writing again. 🙂

    Posted by janahn | 07/08/2014, 1:26 pm

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