I recently wrote a blog on conversations heard in elevators at my workplace for the interest of my colleagues. There were two main themes.
The first was that, beyond the vertical movement of people, the benefit of elevators is the brief everyday conversations that occur inside and show the sociology of the workplace. The second dealt with the rhythm of these conversations, which I hypothesized were largely modulated by the time of day, and the season.
On elevators outside our own home or workplace, we tend to be silent, and stare anywhere other than at the stranger we have just met. There is an inherent anxiety over the strangeness of the territory and the other passengers.
In the elevators where I work, however, where people know each other, early winter-morning ride conversations are invariably along the lines of: “I can’t believe how cold it is today” or “You would think Ottawa drivers had never seen snow before, the way they drive.”
At mid-day, it is usually some speculation along the lines of: “What’s on the menu for lunch?” By late afternoon it’s: “Drive carefully; it’s very icy.”
As we transition to spring, it’s usually: “How great it is to get rid of our coats and boots and smell the flowers.” Similar transitions occur in summer and fall.
What is striking to me is that, no matter how horrid the weather, the driving conditions or food in the cafeteria, in these few moments the people who are talking are always smiling. There is a brief connection made between two people that fulfils a basic human need for us to be connected to our community.
One can consider the work of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa in a similar way. In its simplest form, Federation assists the many wonderful agencies, schools and synagogues we serve to connect us in our everyday needs. Federation provides a special type of Jewish super highway with multiple “on-ramps” to Jewish life, with paths for everything from Jewish schools and synagogues to camps and more, so that Jews of all ages, denominations and interests can connect. I encourage all of you to visit the Federation website, www.JewishOttawa.com, or call us and investigate how you too can get more involved and connected.
Personally, Federation adds meaning to my life in allowing me to contribute to sustaining these connections – and I am indeed smiling as I write this.
The joy of connecting is reflected also in our Passover celebrations as we remind ourselves of the story of the exodus by reading the Haggadah to stay connected to our past and to each other.
Doing so with my family and friends brings joy to me and those I love. I wish the same for you. Chag Pesach Sameach!