A lot has changed since I left the sticks. I lived my whole life in a town of 250 and went to school in a town of 400. We didn't lock our doors (well, until my house got robbed, probably by my parents' students). I never locked my car at work, and I always left my keys on the passenger seat. I and all the kids that lived there never had the option of going to a different school. When we went to the local store (there was only one) we bought our snacks from Jerry-Bob and Crystal's parents. When we went to Henry's, Henry made our hamburgers and fries, and his son was in my class. I worked in the diner owned by one of my parent's former students who babysat me. Everyone knew everyone else.
But now, I don't know the store clerks. I go to Winco and there are a thousand lanes to choose from, so I never see the same person. The pharmacist isn't my math teacher's sister like where I came from. I don't have a favorite restaurant or coffeeplace where "everybody knows your name." Even though we give Oregon hellos (a little dip of the head) on the street, we're mostly invisible.
I don't like that, really. It would be impossible to know everyone in this city, but I wish I did so I could give a genuine hello. How do you get to that point in the second (or third) largest city in Oregon? Pick a small place and get to know everyone well or go on a get-to-know-you spree and find out every name of every cashier in Eugene? I'd probably have a heart attack from anxiety because I'm nervous around people I don't know, but wouldn't it be worth it?
I think it's especially important to show respect and caring to janitors, bus drivers, servers and cashiers because there's little prestige that goes along with those jobs. I just wish it wasn't such a big job.