These are the people in your neighborhood

This week our cub scouts needed to pass off a requirement to talk to an adult about how they use information in their job. We could have just had them talk to me, but we thought it might be cool to talk to some other people. I talked to some of our neighbors and asked them if we could drop by their houses and interview them. The agreed, because we have great neighbors.

When the night came our scouts were awesome. They were respectful, and they listened quietly. They even started to ask some good questions. But I think my wife and I got more out of it than the boys did. We could have stayed much, much longer finding out everything we could.

Our first stop was a couple. He works for the Forest Service, and she is CFO for a local heating and air company. She works at home, and showed us her telecommuting setup. He is a civil engineer, but we learned that Forest Service personnel can take on dual roles at the organization. While much of the year he manages projects building roads on Forest Service lands, during fire season he becomes a fire camp coordinator, tasked with setting up and operating base camps for fire fighters.

Somehow that doesn’t surprise me, as cool as it is. This guy looks like a Marlboro Man who never took up the habit. He’s the guy I wrote about some time ago who cut down our trees for us, and dropped them within inches of where he wanted them. He’s also the guy I regularly borrow tools from when mine are just too wimpy.

Our third neighbor we visited is a shipping and receiving manager for a small national sporting goods chain, keeping their central distribution warehouse running efficiently. Not long out of high school he decided shipping and receiving was his thing, and worked his way from a school janitor to one of two guys keeping the warehouse operating twenty hours a day.

There is a story there I would have loved to explored further, but it would have been off topic and we were running out of time. What leads a person to decide that shipping and receiving is their calling? Not that there’s anything wrong with it–I’m just curious about the story behind that. It’s not a job you hear about a lot in any case, let alone someone specifically seeking it out.

Visiting our neighbors like that reminded me of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. It was always fun when he’d take us on a walk to visit one of his many cool neighbors and find out more about what they did for work. I always thought it was amazing how so many interesting people lived so close by. But the older I get the more I realize that it’s probably true. Everyone in our neighborhood, if we sat down and talked with them, would likely have interesting stories to tell us about their jobs, their lives, and their experiences.

I’ll have to continue this concept. With the cub scouts as an excuse we could get to know a lot of neighbors better! Not to mention learn about all the interesting things there are to do in the world.

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