On the first of the year, my wife and I moved from snowy Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho to sunny San Luis Obispo, California. I grew up here in SLO county, well south county, I guess.
Despite my history here, everything seemed new; the mountains had never looked greener and skies had never been bluer. The local troves held new names and faces, while their sidewalks ferried fresh bodies to and fro.
We were in a land of newness and I was bound to explore it.
Then we got jobs. Well, I got an internship and she got a job.
My internship so far has been ideal. There isn’t much grunt work, and I’m treated as an employee with as much to say as anyone else. Though yesterday, I made copies for five hours.
Five hours. I can still smell it. The copies.
In the middle of my copying madness, I was given a quick job to distribute a notice to all the local businesses in our strip regarding a meeting of some sort.
I welcomed the break.
There were twelve of these notices to hand out. I peeked outside, “there’s twelve shops here?”
For over two months I’ve worked here. Besides the coffee shop, I had no idea who my neighbors were.
“There’s twelve shops?” I repeated.
So once again, I ventured out; I took a local day. Shaking hands, I discovered business owners, employees and their products.
One shop offered full car-audio installation, with a contract for city police vehicles (two were inside). Another shop sold used baby clothes, and right next to it, golf gear. Further down, I met some kids working in a skateboarding warehouse who specialized in online sales; further down, there was a Muay Thai kick boxing ring.
Like us, they were all just trying to make their mark and tell their story. Before yesterday, they didn’t exist. At least not to me.
It’s terrible, our bubbles. We hide inside and shut out the world—sometimes on purpose, most times unknowingly. Like a horse race, we focus on the goal and miss the uniqueness that surrounds it, even if the goal is just a parking spot.
Culture is a beautiful thing. Sometimes, embracing it is as simple as walking outside.
Any good stories of meeting your neighbors? What else can we do to break our daily routines? Are all routines bad? I’d love some feedback.