Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Importance Of 'Consequential Strangers'

I stumbled across this article a few days ago, "The Importance of 'Consequential Strangers" on the NPR site. The idea for the article actually came from another article written by Joel Stein in response to a Time magazine article in 2006 about influential people.

"When humorist Joel Stein, a regular contributor to Time magazine, read the proposed 2006 list of influential people, he decided his editors should "get out of the building more." Chinese businessman Huang Guangyu, Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, and Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquiere meant nothing to him. "What about people who actually affect us?" wondered Stein in his annual sendup of the Time 100. And so, the Joel 100 was born."

"The fact is, each of us has a unique collection of consequential strangers like those on the Joel 100 — people outside our circle of family and close friends. They range from long-standing acquaintances to people we encounter on occasion or only in certain places. They cut a wide swath across our lives, and yet each is linked to us in some way and fills a specific need." Apparently, I'm not the only person inspired by this list.

"To read the entire (annotated) Joel 100, readers had to go online. Some did. A few weeks later, in fact, the magazine published a letter from Nelson Fellman, a seventy-five-year-old retired PR executive from Voorhees, New Jersey:

"Joel Stein's "Meet the Other 100" gave me a great idea: to make a list of the people who matter most to me. I wish I had started that list a long time ago. ... I never took the trouble to tell a high school teacher or a business mentor or a beloved grandfather what a significant influence each had on my life."

"If — until now — you've never thought about, or appreciated, these supporting players, in part it's because many of them skirt the edges of your social consciousness. You might even take them for granted ... until you begin to jot down names for your holiday card list. Scanning your social brain, you come up with people you don't necessarily think of as "important," certainly not compared to your loved ones."

So in the great tradition of stealing other people's ideas and calling it inspiration, I present The Amy 100...people I love and respect, that I need in my life for any variety of reasons, the people I like to spend my time with, or wish I could spend more time with, or even the people I barely know. I'd like to mention right now that this list is in no apparent order. It's random, just the way my brain spits out names.

1. My husband
2. My mom
3 and 3.5. My sister (and as a "half person": her yet unnamed, unknown gendered, unborn baby)
4 and 5. My mother-in-law and her husband
6 and 7. My father-in-law and step-mother-in-law
8-11. My brother-in-law, his wife and their two children (niece and nephew)
12. My other nephew
13-16. My friends, Michelle and Nicole, who are like a package deal, and Michelle's daughter and husband, Matt
17. My closest friend in life, Joel in San Diego
18. My oldest friend in life, Stacy from kindergarten
19. My friend from Wendy's that I haven't seen in 10+ years but still email, Tammy in Cedar Falls
20. My "book buddy" friend that I like to compare thoughts on whatever I'm reading, Crystal in Atlantic
21. My friend Tommie, who I'll miss when she moves to NYC but love her wicked sense of humor
22-24. The mailman, FedEx delivery guy and the UPS delivery guy, because I see more of them around this time of year when I start Christmas shopping online (today was the exception...FedEx came with something that my husband ordered).
25. Everyone involved with American Brittany Rescue (there's probably 1,000 of these people across the country)
26. Everyone involved with Va German Shepherd Rescue (there's probably at least 100 right here)...because I need like-minded people in my life when it comes to animals.
27. The woman in my neighborhood who walks her three Basenji's and however many foster dogs she currently has (through Basenji rescue, of course)
28-32. My friends from my last job at Operation Smile
33-37. The new people I'm meeting at my new job at S&K Sales
38. My friend and former co-worker, as well as my husband's friend, Bob in Norfolk, who likes to ask if I need gas money...and will try to offer me $2 to fill up my scooter, in case I can't afford it. (It's great to see a grown man giggle over something like that.)
39. The woman that helped me on the phone the other day at the Va Workforce Commission. I had heard it was so difficult to get a live person on the phone, and I got one on the second try.
40. The woman at Suzie's Grooming Lounge in Norfolk, who is willing to trim my dog's nails when he acts like a spaz and doesn't mind his weird behavior.
41 and 42. Nicole's friends Joe and Brandon, because they look like grown men but I think are really seven-year-old boys trapped in adult bodies.
43 and 44. My husband's friends, Matt and Dan in Norfolk, for allowing me to call them randomly when my husband is gone because I need something fixed
45. My husband's friend, Heath in Lynchburg, for the unabashed and public love he has for his dog, Storm
46 and 47. My own pets, Dixie and Cujo, for their company and love (I never said that all the beings on this list would be human!)
48. Nicole's cat, Odin, because he acts so tough and so sassy (even though it's fair to say he hates me)
49. Michelle's dog, Sissy, for acting like I'm so wonderful when I come over, because I think she's thinking I'm there to see her.
50-60. Our assorted neighbors, to talk about yards and gardening, and even to get in a little neighborhood gossiping
61. My friend Ginny in Va Beach, for seeing the termination of her position at work as being not only a new door in life, but for running through it at top speed!
62. My husband's friend and my former co-worker, Hal, because I know just as certain the sun is shining today, that each time I see him, I know I'll get a hug and a kiss from him, whether it's been 2 days or 6 months since the last time we saw each other.
63. The members of the American Legion Riders 327, because my husband just enjoys getting out on his motorcycle
64. My friend, Auna at VCU, for seeing good in the whole world
65. The staff at my local Walgreens, for just being dependable
66. The staff at my local Kroger, for just being dependable
67. The staff at my local 7-11, because they are so convenient and have a parking lot that's super easy to get in and out of, no matter what direction you're coming from or going in
68. The optometrist at the eye clinic I go to, for being the most thorough doctor I've ever been to, since getting my first set of glasses when I was five.
69. The receptionist at Dr. Marshall's dentist office in Norfolk, for remembering me and greeting me (only twice a year) like we are old friends
70. Dr. Marshall, for getting me in at the last minute to check out a hurt tooth and then not charging me for it when it turned out to be nothing
71. The service department guys at Sunrise Yamaha in Norfolk, for answering random questions about scooter maintenance
72. The staff at A.C. Moore in Va Beach, for just letting me shop and not randomly asking, "Can I help you find anything?"
73 and 74. The paint department staff at my local Home Depot and Lowe's, for always getting my paint right
75. The server I met at Sonic in Norfolk the other day when I stopped for breakfast. He didn't flip out when he saw my German Shepherd laying in the backseat of my truck, waiting for the cheeseburger I ordered for him. In fact, we talked about his sister wanting a shepherd but having a hard time finding one, so I gave him my email address and got in a plug for Va German Shepherd Rescue.
76. The woman I met briefly in Va Beach when I bought her Cricut from this summer. I've been having a good time with it ever since and I'm making Christmas cards this year.
77. Joan Steffend, the host of Decorating Cents on HGTV, and someone I'll probably never get the chance to meet. I love her as a host, and I find her and the designers she works with, to be so inspiring in my own home.
78. Stan "The Man" Lee...father to Spider-Man, creator of so many wonderful things Marvel, and another person I'll probably never get the chance to meet
79. Author of the macabre and wonderful, Stephen King, because I know I can usually count on at least two new books from him each year
80. Billy Joel, just for being the greatest at what he does. He had the greatest concert I had ever been to, in 2008 at the Va Beach Amphitheater. I've been a fan for so long and always figured I'd never get the chance to see him perform live. It was incredible. At the end of two hours, my face hurt from all the smiling.
81-85. The Barenaked Ladies (both with and without Steven Page) for making music I feel like I can relate to, and for having such fun concerts. At the end of the first concert I went to of theirs, the palms of my hands hurt from the clapping.
86-89. The Bangles, just because their music still seems relevant to me. Hey, come to Hampton Roads! I would kill to see you in concert!
90. The staff of Sajo Farm Vet Hospital, for patiently answering the same questions from me each year, "What does Cujo/Dixie need next? How much will that cost?"

Wow, this is really getting hard. I don't have any particular hang-outs to include, so I think I'm going to have to amend this list and now call it, The Amy 90. I just don't know how to stretch it out much further.

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