Two social things I have come to appreciate about ICFA

1) Don Morse makes a point every year of not just thanking the wait-staff who herd us through the luncheons and banquet, but thanking them by name. Which pleases me more than I can say, because I believe very strongly in greeting and smiling at and making eye contact with maids and doormen and other service personnel. They’re people, and they aren’t invisible. They should be treated accordingly. (In fact, I almost wish our room ninja steward on the cruise had been less ninja-like, because I almost never saw him to thank him. But it took only one day on board the ship before I grokked why cruises include substantial recommended tips for the staff. Those people earn them.) And it’s triply important when you keep coming back to the same place year after year.

2) On the whole, the poolside contingent is very good about doing introductions. If I pull up a chair next to someone I know who’s sitting with someone I don’t know, our common denominator will often take a moment to acquaint the strangers with one another before the conversation proceeds. I’m not as good about doing that myself as I should be, actually — I blame a pervasive self-doubt as to whether I have people’s names right, even though I know that self-doubt is groundless 99% of the time. But I appreciate other people doing it, since it helps smooth over the uncertainty of joining a group composed largely of people you don’t know.

It isn’t just the sunshine and the poolside and the random fascinating conversational topics. Those first two would be lonely, and that last one wouldn’t happen, if people weren’t conscientiously friendly to their fellow attendees.

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