I grew up in a small-ish Midwestern town where everyone already knew everybody else’s name. When I moved to a major city, I missed knowing my neighbors and the people where I went. So, a decade ago, I started making it a point to know people’s names. I know the names of the checkout clerks, butchers, and the wine and cheese buyers at the grocery store; I know the names of my regular UPS man, mail carrier, and FedEx lady (and even most of their substitutes); I know the name of the woman who schedules appointments at my hair salon; I know the names of bus drivers, cab drivers, and the women who work at the dry cleaner’s. And, for the most part, these people know my name, too.

There’s an important lesson here: treat people as ends and not as means only. That’s an insight from Kant. Learning people’s names and talking to them as humans is good. Period. And it can be helpful. But the important thing is that we don’t treat people as if they existed merely for their occupational function.

(via The Daily Dish)