Let me introduce you to Claire and Glenn. They walk together in the morning through my neighborhood. They are well dressed, probably retired, and they seem happy because they are usually smiling.
The only other thing that I know about them is that they are social. I know this because they introduced themselves in the local ShopRite.
Glenn approached me and introduced Claire and then I called my wife, Sarah, into the mix.
Now we are all a bit more entangled in each other’s lives. The smiles on the street are wider. The waves are grander, and of course, the names must be remembered (my ulterior motive for writing this column).
But the interactions are not disingenuous or as slight as they may seem from my tongue in cheek introduction – quite the opposite.
The smiling couple makes the street seem homier when I see them. Their existence at the edge of my world expands the borders of my life.
Much like the lights of my neighbors’ porches when they come on in a row at dusk, they add up. It makes me feel like I am part of something.
At the end of the day there is a line of people letting their loved ones know that they are home and waiting for them when the work is over. The lights say that neighbors are welcome to stop by, or at the very least, they are not saying, “Don’t bother me.”
Simple things, like leaving a light on or waving hello, are important because they are communal.
Technological revolutions, like the massive, free Web encyclopedia “Wikipedia,” (written by volunteers) show that given the chance, through technology or otherwise, people care. They want to connect and they are willing to go out of their way to do so.
For all I know, Glenn and Claire could have pages on MySpace, but in a simpler and more direct way, they reached out and improved my community, just by saying, “Hello.”