by Kwesi (’15)
Growing up in the city (“San Francisco”), I was trained to be cautious of the world around me, to be aware and prepared to run or glare or yell at someone who was closer than “THE **** AWAY FROM ME.”
I was baffled by the close-knit communities I read about, where the neighbors are friends and the mailman knows everyone’s name and people smile at each other when they pass on the street. It was a foreign concept, and I was fascinated by the safety and security people found in their neighborhoods.
I knew it did not exist on my block, or on my street, or in my 7×7 urban home.
In the past year, I’ve changed my mind.
A few months ago, I came home from school early, sick, and walked into my building to find my mother and our UPS Guy, “Damien,” swapping stories about their days. I hadn’t known that we had a UPS Guy, much less one with a name and a face and an irritating curiosity about our last name.
It turns out Damien is not the only one. There are real-live nice, friendly people here in sunny San Francisco (Hey, I don’t know about the rest of you, but here in the Mission it’s pretty nice), where buses are lit on fire and people pee on your building EVERY SINGLE DAY BECAUSE THEY HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO AWARENESS OF THE community we have here.
Or, the community we can have. The network of warm, fuzzy friendship exists everywhere, you just have to find it. So: bring back the antiquated concept of manners. Say thank you to your bus driver. Smile when you cross paths with someone on the sidewalk and it takes thirty seconds for y’all to agree who will move out of the way. Tell your neighbor with the really loud dog to please kindly make their dog shut up, and then bond over how awful the new washing machines are and how much you miss the graffiti they painted over on the corner store.