Chilling with the Neighbors
you learn stuff
Laat night we had our annual Block Watch picnic, and so I got to interact with the neighbors. I was particularly interested to do it because I’d recently been clued into this notion from G.K Chesterton:
The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.
I our street I am the oldest and the most conservative and the racist-sexist-homophobe within nuclear blast radius. But I am still interested to hear what my liberal neighbors think and say.
So yeah. I got to talk to a couple of neighbors that were complete Democrats and were really befuddled by the Trump phenomenon. And who believed that labor unions were the best thing since sliced bread.
So I got to rehearse my theory of the rise of populist nationalism. I don’t think they were impressed.
But hey, I also talked to a guy with three teenaged daughters about social media. After agreeing that it was a horrible thing for kids today, we thought to ask one of his daughters what she thought. She told us that she doesn’t pay no nevermind to abusive kids on social media. They are bad people and that’s all. I looked at my neighbor and asked him: Did your heart just go pit-a-pat? He agreed: it was wonderful to hear that from his daughter.
Then I talked to a hospital doctor. She said that it’s a nightmare because there is a nurse shortage. A few months into the COVID thing a lot of the older nurses quit, and now they have a lot of younger, inexperienced nurses that they call “traveler nurses.” No, they are not gypsies, but nurses that hire on with a bonus, and then quit to take another job across the country that is also offering a bonus. Don’t get sick, she advises.
Then I talked to a young East Asian American, a cello player and an Amazon software developer. He said that he almost went pro as a cello player, but now plays in a semi-pro chamber orchestra here in Seattle. So we got to talk about music and the remarkable fact that East-Asians are really into western music.
Finally I talked to a young man going into his senior year at high school. He wasn’t the kid of supersocial kid with dozens of extracurriculars and activisms, but, as he said, you are who you are when you apply to college.
Oh, and there was a young mother with her 5-week-old baby girl sleeping peacefully on her breast.
Then, today, I learned from my Greek friend that his dad was an itinerant Singer sewing machine repairman in the years before World War II, wandering like Odysseus through the Greek islands in search of broken sewing machines to fix.