Thursday, October 23, 2014

Names & Faces

You know you have settled into a community when you begin to readily recognize people. Its a comforting feeling; no longer is everyone you see a stranger, rather you are all a part of the same community. But simply recognizing someone doesn't mean you know them. Even after you begin to greet them when you see them, do you really know them if you don't know their name?

Right now we are living in a diverse but relatively small community. Where ever I go I immediately recognize the people I see and I can categorize them into where I know them from. There is the staff at the post office, the clerks at the store and even the gate guards who check my ID each time I drive by. There are the people who hit the gym each morning at the same time I do; the moms who shop on base immediately after dropping their kids off at school and the people who stop by the cafe for coffee each afternoon before picking their children up. And of course there are the parents, mostly moms again, who I recognize from Sidney's school and soccer team. I can recognize most of them by the class their child attends and if they are one of Sidney's class or teammates I know them as that child's mom. With this group I am known as "Sidney's mom". (All this makes me wonder whether we all follow the same schedule!). But do I know their names? For the most part no.....It is all strangely anonymous but not really.

I'd been pondering this not knowing any one's name issue for awhile. First, I'm horrible when it comes to remembering names so even if I've heard it once I'm likely to forget it. Second, after talking to someone on a daily basis (fellow moms for example) it feels awkward to months later, as, someone what their name is. Sometimes Glenn and I will serve as each other's foil with one of us introducing ourselves to someone the other knows yet doesn't know their name. But inevitably we all quickly return to being known quasi-anonymous as so-and-so's parent.

But last week something changed. Like I said, I pass the same people each day as I go about my routine. I was at the post office and walked passed a fellow American mom who I see just about every morning and afternoon. We both smiled at each other but then as I passed her she stopped and introduced herself telling me that she saw me everywhere but didn't know my name. Here I was feeling the very same thing but she took the step to change all of that. We made our introductions then went along our way (with my repeating her name to myself several times so that I wouldn't forget it). Since that interaction I've seen her just about every day and we now greet each other not only with a smile but an acknowledgement using our names. As simple as it is, it feels so much nicer.

And her initiative has now spurred one of my own. At a minimum of once a week (I do need to remember all of the names after all), I am going to make it my mission to actually introduce myself by name to someone I see regularly and inquire about their own as well. I've already done it twice and I am now able to refer to people by their names rather than as the mom of Sidney's classmate ______. I wish I had started doing this sooner since my already small community is suddenly feeling cozier and more friendly than it was before. I love it. Now I can't promise that I am going to remember every one's name but I'm going to give it my best shot.

No comments:

Post a Comment