Have you ever noticed how strange it feels when someone you know very well treats you with formality almost as a stranger and and that it also feels just as strange when a total stranger treats you with complete familiarity? And why is it so much easier to talk with a stranger on a plane, train or bus than your family or spouse sometimes? It seems we have this thing about communicating. We want to control the outcome. A stranger may be more willing to listen with non-judegement while an intimate might feel freer to express their opinion. At times pouring your heart out to a perfect stranger you will probably never see again than to confide in your BFF because you know they will remember, probably forever.
Yet a stranger may only be being polite. They have no stake in your life. They could end up telling you how it really is...in their view. Or they might just say nothing at all. They become the sounding board you needed. No response required. Just quiet acceptance and postive regard.
And your friends and family may well love you no matter what. If they are true friends and genuine family in the holiest meaning of the term, they will be there for you. They, too, will be that mirror you need at times to see yourself how you actually are.
Bottom line, we have radar. We are able to find the ears we need when we need them. We just have to put aside our filters and see people as they really are. People reflect to us who we really are. What we like in them, we like or want to develop in ourselves. And just as true, what we do not like and perhaps are even repelled by in others, we do not like in ourselves. All we need to do is be mindful of this as we interact with others.
Strangers and friends are ends of the same spectrum. A stranger can be your best friend just when you need and a friend can be distant enough to share with you the objective truth. In the end, we need to look for the lesson in all our relationships because they all, casual or close, have something to teach us.
This is a picture of the rear passenger side window of a 1948 Plymouth, much like the car my dad purchase used from my mother's cousin back when I was very young. Obviously they don't make windows like this in cars like this any more. Obviously they don't make cars like this any more.
I think I may have had something to do with that.
One summer when I was about five or six, we set off on a family trip from Detroit to visit my dad's relatives in central Pennsylvania. In those days it was a good ten to twelve hour trip, even using the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes. But oh what an adventure it was. And oh, how bored two little boys can get in the backseat of a car with no air conditioning (few cars had it then in 1956). So we would get into mischief to be sure.
This is where I think I had something to do with Detroit stopping making rear windows that opened like vents as in this picture.
Before we left Detroit, my parents took my brother and I to Montgomery Wards to buy new summer tennis shoes. They were's high tops like I wanted. All the boys were wearing them. But my parents thought they would be too hot for summer. So they got low cut gym shoes...and were told we would like them.
This is where the window meets the shoes.
On the turnpike where there was no stopping allowed except in case of emergency, my dad was cruising along, pushing the speed limit as he always did, and not paying much attention to us in the back seat. I remember opening the window, knowing that would be okay. It was getting hot. Open windows were okay. But what I did next was not.
You guessed it, I am sure. I shoved my new gym shoes through the window and watched them fly out onto the highway. It was quite a site. Those shoes flew until the big truck behind us ran over them. My mother caught sight of the shoes out her rearview mirror. There was shouting and the car swerved slightly as my dad grabbed my arm and then quickly let go. But there was no going back. The shoes had flown the coupe (spelling intentional) and were gone forever.
I couldn't sit comfortably for several hours...maybe a day.
Nope, they don't make cars like that any more...not with those kind of windows. I kinda think I had something to do with that. When you're five years old, you just don't know your power.
U.S. Post Office sign encourages using ZIP codes
Fifty years ago numbers were on their way to becoming king. It had begun with th invention of Area Codes for telephone numbers. Three little numbers that indentified calling regions of the United States and soon the world that if you called outside of, there was a measured charge for "long distance". Those were the days. These days when we dial a number, most likely on our cell phones now...pardon me...smart phones, we dial ten digits without complaining...too much.
The ZIP code was introduced on July 1, 1963 to speed letters and packages along as they were sorted and processed. It seemed to work. The mail continued to get through snow, hail and dark of night. We had been using two digit numbers to identify the area of the city or town in the address. Mine was Detroit 40, MIchigan. Even though I did not live in Detroit, it was our assigned postal code. With the advent of the ZIP code, the city/state line was suffixed with a five digit number that identified the larger area with the first three numbers and the last two were those original two numbers. So Redford Township, Michigan 48240 became okay to use because the Post Office really looked at the five digit suffix and only at the city/state if there were some confusion at the point of delivery.
All this seems rather banal at this point. We take these identity numbers for granted now. And now we have even more numbers to remember or at least track somehow: Social Security, Driver's Licenses, Credit Cards, Serial Numbers for all our belongings and gadgets, License Plates, Employee ID's, Personal Idenification Numbers (PIN's) for bank accounts, debit cards, online banking, and on and on.
We are know by our numbers. Our names are just personal relics.
As the world population grew and grew and the various means and needs to communicate with each other efficiently and effectively grew, we had to give up some our our personal identity I suppose. Yet I don't fine I am bothering by this. Like all change, you tend to just get used to it. And I guess that is not a bad thing.
So don't tell me to zip it up if I ask you for your number. Obviously I am just hoping to stay in touch. And no matter how long I stand at the window and shout your name, I imagine you won't answer your phone, open your email, recieve my written correspondence unless I know your number.