Old Diary

Loving People

mallkioskDon’t you love seeing people who are having fun?  I do.  The other day we were at the mall, walking.  It’s about the only time we go to the mall anymore.  We certainly don’t need to purchase many things at this stage in life, but a warm, dry place with stable footing is a welcome to walkers and the both of us like to get in some steps every day or every two days.

Our particular mall is a two level mall and most of the time it’s easier to park at one of the upper level entrances so we don’t spend much time on the first level.  But the other day we approached from a different direction and it was easier parking in a different location and we ended up walking the first floor.

The kiosks are all there.  There is open space at the center of the corridors to allow light down to the first level and obviously there are no kiosks floating in the air in that second floor open space.  So it was a chance to interact with the kiosk sales people for a change.

At one or two of them I was particularly taken with employees who genuinely seemed to enjoy being with people.  That’s not who I am.  I like people.  Just in limited quantities and not too often.  I had ONE sales job in my life and had I not quit a few months into it I’m sure I would have been fired; I simply could not handle spending all day long talking and interacting with other people.  It gives me the willies just thinking about it now — 30 years later!

The mall runs an amusement for children — a sort of mall train.mall train On this day there were only one or two kids riding the train, but every time the train came around two employees at two different kiosks (there were several more than those two) took time out of their sales to stop, look at the little ones, and wave with a smile.  It wasn’t a huge action.  But it was kind, and nice, and… I guess… unexpected.

It got me thinking about the differences between us.  Some of us actually like spending time with people.  They — maybe one of them is you — like to be at parties with a lot of people.  They like to be part of committees.  They like to interact at sporting events and social occasions.  They literally thrive in the hustle and bustle of multiple simultaneous interactions.  And then there are people like me — who don’t.  And people on a thousand data points in between who are closer to one end of the scale than the other.

I have been want to say on many occasions that this is a big world and there’s room in it for all kinds and I genuinely mean that.  There are so many jobs I would not have wanted to do in my working career.  There are so many ways people spend their retirement that I am thankful I don’t have to follow.  I’m glad for them all, and I’m glad I don’t have to live that way.  There really is room for all sorts.

This is just one form of diversity, but it points to the reasons that diversity in general is needful and desirable.  Politicians can posture all they want about why they think we “need” secure borders, but the fact of the matter is that more of us are here in this nation because of immigration than are not.  Other than the relatively small population of First Nations on U.S. soil, we are all immigrants — it’s just that some of us have been here longer than others.  But longevity ought not to be mistaken for nativity.  Being here longer does not make you a better person, nor a more desirable citizen.

Moreover, a growing nation needs new bodies to do the work of nation-building; a new economy needs new minds to develop the systems and products; a growing society needs the resource of diverse input in order to meet the needs of the diverse population that’s already here and that which desires to join us.

It may be true that politicians can afford to get away with ignoring climate change, or the disappearance and extinction of so-called lesser species for a while — eventually the facts of life catch up with all of us.  A boy can pretend he’s not a boy for so long, a girl can pretend she’s not a girl for so long, but eventually the dictates of genetics and the workings of the human limbic system are going to overcome our stubbornness and will remind us who we really are.  (and no this is not a statement about gay anything or trans anything, or gender identity — our bodies know who we are whether or not we struggle with what that means in societal terms.  It’s not all that uncommon for the conscious self to lag behind in understanding.)  What a politician chooses to say to satisfy his base may have little or nothing to do with the real world.  And the real world will tolerate the foolishness of politicians for a season.  But eventually reality has to be acknowledged, and our need for a diverse population will eventually become understood.

In the same way that there are kiosk salespeople who love being around people there are also some who hate their jobs; they would rather be home alone, or with their smartphones texting someone else.  Folks like that don’t usually last very long on the job. I’m so sure you can say the same thing applies to politicians.  If they keep the right people happy they can keep their job long after they lost any desire to do their job.  Isn’t that what gerrymandered districts are all about:  make it impossible for the other guy to get elected, insure that you keep your job as long as possible.

Hopefully the electorate figures out sooner rather than later that some people don’t deserve to represent them, just as some employees shouldn’t really be sales people.

But for now,  I’m glad I saw those couple of workers who really seemed to like being around people.  I  saw them both at other times in our walks and they are cheerful and smiling when they give their sales spiel.  They also talk to passersby just for the fun of it.  It’s nice to see them and be around them.

I hope people sometimes think that of me, even if I’m not overly sociable.  I think they do. I know I am a far cry from a social butterfly, but we don’t all need to be that.  And that’s enough for me.