Why I Complimented a Cashier’s Hat

I use to work at a grocery store when I was in college. One day, I was working with my friend Tyler on aisle 8. As a customer walked by, Tyler turned around and exclaimed:

Dude, I love your shirt!

There was this sudden connection between them as they talked about some band and their music. I’m standing there asking myself, “What is…okay, I have no idea what is happening.” When the customer walked away, I questioned Tyler.

What was that? What happened there? You connected with a complete stranger and started talking about a band and their music?

Tyler laughed, explaining how the young man’s shirt had his favorite band’s logo on it.

It is a band you probably have never heard of. But there is this amazing community that has developed around the music they create…

Weird, but intriguing. Despite poking fun at my friend, I was curious and wanted to know more.

I Like Your Hat

Fast forward in time, and I am in North Carolina with some of my family. As the temperature drops, everyone decides to get ice cream. So here we are – wearing jackets and standing in this long line for a frozen dairy dessert.

While my aunt goes to buy the ice cream, I notice the cashier has a hat with a band’s logo on it – the same band Tyler listened to. I stood there struggling, trying to figure out what to do. Should I say something? Would it be too weird? Okay, we’re walking away…

I like your hat!

As we walked out of the ice cream shop, my cousin turned to me and asked:

Cousin: What was that? What happened there?
Me: Oh, it a band you probably have never heard of. But there is this amazing community that has developed around the music they create…

My cousin’s face said, “Weird, but intriguing”. But I could tell she was curious and wanted to know more.

It’s Not About the Hat

Did I compliment the cashier’s hat because I liked it? Absolutely not. I could care less about the hat. Even if you gave it to me, I would not have worn it. So why did I say something?

As ridiculous as it sounds, I complimented the cashier’s hat because I cared about the connection. I cared about community. I wanted to feel like I was in on something and a part of something.

Community is captivating. 

It is not just me who cares about connection and community.

We all care about connection. We all want to feel like we are in on something and a part of something bigger. Why? Because we have been created with a longing to feel connected. Wired with a desire for community. Made to want to be a part of a “us”.

We have been made to be captivated by community.

What do you think? What ways — good or bad — do we try to feel connected? Why communities do you feel the most connected to? Share your thoughts below and let’s talk about it!