Doorman Jose told me not to write this column because I’d taken a spill from a chair and hurt my right knee. “Take care of yourself first and foremost,” he said, “the world will survive without this one column.”
But concerned words like Jose’s do help the healing, and so I feel compelled to get this message out there — how concerned words help the healing. And how we need reminding to say them — enough. And this is rather a follow up on my previouos column about how apartment house staff members are often veritable lifelines to building residents, as well as everyday friends who say “Good morning,” “Good day,” “Good evening,” and really mean it.
The Need to Be More NeighborlyAnd again, to those who don’t have them, infinitely more must be said and done about the need to organize — such an unfriendly term —to get tenants to be more neighborly, where greeting one another with a smile at least is the rule. And remember the late Loretta Ponticelli who, when she was able-bodied, made the City and Suburban Homes complex more community-minded, But this rather fell apart when she became home-bound and ironlically could have used more community support herself.
There was no Jose there to judicially spread the word when someone was ill. “Bette got hurt,” he told some longtime tenants, which pompted some welcome visits, food and ice bags. And mostly it’s the presence that matters, perhaps by “reach out and touch someone,” phone calls, and of course emails, though not everyone has online options. Ever wish online had not beeninvented?
Small Businesses Create CommunityAnd speaking of communty, online shopping surely undermines the health and survival of neighborhood shops and eateries which create community. For example, as the owners of Beacon Paint & Hardware said when I called about their atruggle to survive, the problem wasn’t any mammoth rent hike, but the online shopping, with bargains so hard to resist, not to mention the convenience, which was undermining the survival of this family’s nearly half-century old business.
And that was another reasom I needed to write this column — to stress again how these small businesses and eateries create commuity and neighborliness. And with the population aging, they are accessible by walking and, yes, by wheelchairs and rollators. They need our all-out support. It can be done, if enough of us try.