Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The Magic of Names
My first job as a volunteer at the Open Center in New York City consisted of helping with a large mail campaign. The fund raiser asks people who have taken classes at the center to donate money to help the institution cover its costs.
Several thousand envelopes have to be stuffed with several items: a letter to the addressee, a form for the donation, a return envelope etc.
Step no 1: Take an envelope with the name and address out of one box,
Step no 2: Find the matching letter in a different box,
Step no 3: Find the donation form in a stack of papers arranged in alphabetical order,
Step no 4: Put it all together, seal the envelope and put it in the mailing container.
English names, German names, French names, Spanish names, Scandinavian names, Jewish names, names from countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe....
Most of the addresses were located in or around the city.
As I was assembling the mailings, the names began to conjure up images in my mind, images of people and places - the entire world, contained in a stack of papers in an office in New York City.