As a child, I remember visiting the local bank. Dark, shiny wood paneling lined the walls. People in formal attire smiled and handed out Dum Dums. Black pens hung on beaded chains. Chatter remained hushed.

I loved going to the bank and listening to the familiar interactions my parents had with bank employees.

Today, I can’t remember the last time I went inside a bank. Why would I? The ATM and drive-thru prove faster and more convenient.

At the gas station, I pay at the pump.

In the grocery store, self-check out lines remain short.

For used books, I buy online.

If I want a movie, I order it instantly.

When our naughty dog runs away, my neighbor texts.

Before I accrue fines, I renew my library books online.

Instead of buying the full CD of a new band, I simply click and purchase.

If I’m curious about a funny rash on my daughter’s arm, I google it.

My interaction with people I don’t know, but who work in my community is more limited than it’s ever been, and that’s a problem.

I’ve been taking a class about Becoming a Contagious Christian. In the class, we talk about deepening our relationships with those who line our lives. I like the idea of pushing beyond surface level conversations with those already in my life, but I’m astounded I can’t list the name of one person I come in contact with regularly at the store (self-check out), gas station (self-pay), or the bank (online banking). 

My goal? This week I will walk into the gas station to pay, and I might even chose the longer line in the grocery store. This week, I’m determined to learn the name of someone I see constantly, but know little.

What about you? Can you tell me the name of someone you interact with regularly in your community or do you tend to be convenience driven like me? How do you promote intentional interactions with strangers?

Amy Sullivan

Amy writes for both print and online publications. She is currently writing a non-fiction book about practical ways for families to serve others. Amy spends her mornings teaching sassy, high school students in Western North Carolina, and her afternoons attempting to correct her two daughters’ newly acquired Southern accents. You can find out more about Amy at her site: