The Incalculable Value of Peripheral Connections

In Placerville, Calif., David Turoff, 72, a veterinarian, chats with his mail carrier and UPS deliveryman, and sometimes drops in on the mechanic who repairs his truck just to say hello or leave a gift of firewood. “They make me feel good,” Mr. Turoff said of such brief interactions. “I like having connections with people.”

Toby Gould’s day begins with a 7 a.m. visit to Chez Antoine, a bakery and coffee shop in Hyannis, Mass. Mr. Gould, 77, a retired minister, buys a takeout latte and speaks French, haltingly, with the Belgian proprietor, who bestows a slice of ham on Mr. Gould’s Australian shepherd, Layla. If the shop closed, “it would leave a hole in my life,” Mr. Gould said.

They May Be Just Acquaintances. They’re Important to You Anyway.
The people at the dog park, the bank teller, the regular waiter — these casual relationships may be “weak ties,” but they’re also a key to well-being.
Paula Span

From the comments:

My friend and I ate pizza together every Friday at a local restaurant. The man behind the counter knew our orders and always chatted a bit with us every week. A couple of Fridays ago, we walked up to the door and it was locked, with a handwritten “Closed” sign. It closed permanently. We were so sad. What happened to our guy? Did he get another job? We miss going there and seeing all the regulars. We had to start all over at a new pizza place

This article really resonates for me. My husband and I had lived in the same neighborhood for 30 years and when he died, I discovered that I had to break the news to many of his “weak ties.” Some of them had known us as a couple and so naturally asked about his absence, but others were people he had interacted with alone – the dry cleaners, the man who repaired his watches etc. Many knew his name but others did not, and yet every one of them had something to say about him and often a story to tell. They had also observed us as a couple over the years and offered their impressions of our relationship. (You are never invisible in a neighborhood!) Discovering that he had left a small gap in so many people’s lives helped me immeasurably in coping with the huge gap he had left in mine.

Been There Experienced That
While I was having radiation therapy, I struck up a relationship with the bus driver and a passenger. When I came to the end of the treatment, I told them why I had been riding and that this was my last ride. Both cheered me when I got off the bus. It felt very good.