I went to get my afternoon coffee today, and I realized how important routines are to our daily lives.  As much as we hate repetition and how we would loathe if every day was the same, at the same time, we adore familarity.  Now, normally we would think of daily routines as leaving the house at the same time in the morning for work, listening to the same station in the car on the ride or sitting on the same car in the train.  But we typically don’t think of routines and people in the same context.  However, they are much more closely linked than we would imagine.

 Here are the people I encounter every day, other than my boyfriend and co-workers.  I don’t know most of these people, but if I didn’t see them on a weekday, I would feel incomplete.

1. On the train platform, Brockton station, 7:05 AM
-The girl with the short, bright, unnaturally red hair
-The older, greying man who prefers to stand in between the train cars than take a seat, and who also stops at the Dunkin Donuts near South Station every morning with his lady friend, who rides in on the train with him
-The two women who are always chatting and laughing loudly.  They cheer me up, even on the gloomiest days.
-The father and son who get on the same car as me.  I always wonder what they do.  Does the son go to college in town, and the father works there?  Do they get dropped off by Mom, or drive? 

2. Oliver Street Variety, 2 Oliver Street, Boston, 8:05 AM
-This store is run by a motley crew of three people – the quiet guy with the dreadlocks who looks angrier than he is; the cheery guy who always asks how my morning is; and the woman who I think is their friend but seems to work there, too.  (The only unpredictable aspect of this routine is the music they play.  You never know if you will be entertained by Brit pop, techno, or Celine Dion while filling up your coffee cup.)

3. Starbucks, Franklin Street, Boston, 1:25 PM
-There is the quiet woman at the register who doesn’t say much but recognizes me now. 
-The extremely flamboyant barista who always is making a comment about the music they play when I get to the counter
-The cheery guy who always says hi to me and asks how I am.  Today he came over to my seat, asked me about my day, and handed me a candy.  Then, as I was leaving, we started chatting and we discussed my job, PR, and our clients.  It was a big step in our strange connection.

4. Workout World, Brockton, 8:10 PM
-The trainer who used to try to sell me his services when I first started going.  Now we just share greetings when I go over to the mats to stretch and he is showing yet another overdressed girl how to do lunges.
-The staff member who called me “Kickball girl!” (due to my kickball shirt, leftover from my WAKA days) for two months until finally learning my name.  Now he welcomes me by name and always makes sure to say hi at least twice when I’m there.

These people may not change my life or have any deeper effect than their description above.  But my day would be off without them.  I wonder who their “regulars” are.  Because if you think about it, everyone’s got at least one.

Vicki Lawrence was on PBS today, discussing her start on the “Carol Burnett Show.”  She said the greatest lesson she learned from Carol was that “you are only as good as the people around you.”  I see the people I pass by or encounter in my daily existence and the positive effect they have on me, and I wish I could tell them how they keep me sane.  I guess my message in all this is to be aware of the people around you, and think twice before cutting off that person on your morning drive, or pushing that woman out of the way to get onto the T, or not holding the elevator for the guy in the lobby.  You can never realize the connections we all share until you start looking at those around you from someone else’s point of view.  You don’t want to have a negative influence on someone else’s “regular.”  And who knows – by being kind and generous, you may end up having a positive impact on someone else without even realizing it.

*Blog title courtesy of Harry Nilsson, “Mournin’ Glory Story”