Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Postman Only Rings Once

I was emailing my latest results on my seemingly endless quest to locate all our "missing" classmates when I was told that aside from the one emailing and one postcard mailing, that the committee was under no obligation to make further attempts to contact classmates; that they knew where the website was and if they really wanted to know, they'd put the effort in to contact the committee. If they had a computer. If they hadn't been out of touch for a long time through no fault of their own.

So despite the fact that they've been hanging in there for all these years, as they never fail to point out to me, and I appreciate this fact, I still think we're missing the boat and a real opportunity to build on 44 years of good work. I remember sitting in parts unknown and knowing that the website was there and every now and again connecting to it and thinking I should really "register" and not doing it. Almost doing it and then getting distracted by something else and not doing it. I remember that one of the reasons that I eventually did was the death of my first wife. I was adrift and lost. I even got together with Al Piaget and Dorothy Tunis, who were doing well at the time. "Doc" as he has been called since we knew him was almost retired and raising pigeons as a passion. I think we all look to the past for grounding, for stability. It was good to see them again. They sent a lovely personalized wedding gift that almost got destroyed by the house fire, but I saved it from the trash bin of history because it was special and worth keeping. And even as I was grasping for some kind of reality, it was only a few years later that I finally "registered" on the website. By then they had forgotten that I went to the 20th. But they must have lost my address in Rutherford, because I never got a card for the 30 even though I hadn't moved.  The fact remains. If you want people to get together, you have to actively make it happen. It is no time for passive action. There are too many ways NOT to get in touch.

My wife and I found, during her quest to locate all her classmates, that nothing beats a phone call. It's personal; it's human contact. It means that someone took the time to punch in the numbers and talk, and 99 times out of a hundred, it results in a truly gratifying and wonderful experience. I've had the greatest talks with people I didn't know that well 44 years ago, and suddenly, we're back in the halls talking about those years. From that experience for my wife and this one, for me, I have come to realize that it is not just about the reunion. Sure, it's great to see people in person, but it is more about the community of classmates that it is really all about. The personal contact, person to person, the sharing that takes place. You can't share if you don't have the ability to contact people. It is frustrating to see the photo on the site and know that someone is still alive (that's another story) and not be able to get in touch. It's like MyLife or some of the other people search sites. We'll give you a tease, but for more you have to.......

What if we had a place to go where information is available if you want it, where you could post information so people could contact you? What if we had a full directory, with information voluntarily offered, with an address or email address. Not so possibly intrusive like a phone number, but with an email or mail contact made, you can always get a phone number if the receiving party wants to give it. You already know about my ideas about the illusion of privacy. All we're saying is let's save all the legwork. One call does it all or at least it can be the beginning of good things. I know that it made a world of difference for the F.J. Reitz class of 1967. The feeling and realization of communitas is real, tangible and very heartwarming.

Comment below or on Facebook if you think this idea has any merit. Yeah, I guess I'm volunteering to do it, but I won't if there isn't sufficient interest. In the meanwhile, Linda tells me that I have to friend more classmates. We have a lot of classmates on Facebook and not all of them are "registered".

The work goes on.

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