(Abby here: I’m posting this piece by First Church moderator Tim Danz. We’ll get him an account of his own soon!)
I reached an elite status last spring. I got a wave through the window. It meant I was good for it. Tou gave me a wave and approved my gas pump.
It reminded me of how small town the Twin Cities can be. Where I work on the East Side of St. Paul you pay before you pump. This privilege of pumping before paying was certainly born of familiarity. Tou’s station always has the lowest price and they give a 3-cent per gallon discount for cash. So of course I fill up regularly there.
I think Tou welcomed me because I was civil too. I always greet him and over time we’ve developed a pleasant conversational rapport. When one of us asks how it ‘s going we actually listen and respond to each other. We’ve shared joys, complaints, and bad jokes. Unfortunately daily interactions like that seem to be rare. Too often it’s just a quick hello or a thank you.
Rutgers University is spending the next two years discussing their daily interactions. They’ve begun The Civility Project, a two-year dialogue examining civility in their community. They will ask, Who are we, the members of the Rutgers community? How are we getting along with one another? How might we improve the quality of our day-to-day interactions?
We’ve been asking similar questions at First Church. Over the last year we’ve examined who we are as we sought our new minister. Now with Jane we’ve continued to explore who we want to be. Our project at First Church is a little broader. While we certainly are interested in improving the quality of our interactions, we’re also interested in increasing the quantity of our interactions. How do we share our joys with others?
I plan to follow the Civility Project. I want to see if I can bring some of this conversation to my classroom. More importantly I want to see if I can develop more waves through the window for myself. How many friends do I see everyday that I just haven’t met yet?