Improving Friendships a Gas Tank at a Time

When you have really close friends, you know them extremely well. When I moved down to New Orleans, I knew that one of my close friends and I were both the kind of people who would do a horrible job of keeping in touch with each other. I predicted it would happen and we both promised to try and prevent falling out of touch.

And of course, we were prophets and definitely don’t talk enough anymore.

The main problem is that we can easily talk about things, but there’s nothing to instigate a phone call besides “I haven’t talked to her in a while” and usually then, I think of it while I’m busy, or it’s ridiculously late at night. The thought of “Oh, I should share this…” doesn’t really enter into play.

Then a couple weeks ago, I had an idea. I was pulling in to put gas in my car and the car in front of me had a sticker from my friend’s alma mater. So I gave her a call.

It occurred to me that I don’t really DO anything while filling up my tank. I’m not in the middle of something when I’m getting gas, and normally, I fill up prior to, or after work. Not to mention that our busiest times are when we’re traveling, and when we’re on the road for work, we don’t have our personal cars.

Plus, the 15 minutes from the gas station next to work to home, or the gas station next to home to work means I can say “Ok, I’m home now” if I DO have plans. It’s really the perfect place where a phone call for the sake of a phone call fits into my day. And it will also distract us from other idiot drivers and quell our respective road rage.

I fill up my gas tank every two weeks or so, which is about the frequency we can talk and actually have something to say. If you talk too frequently, it’s “nothing’s new.” Two weeks is enough time for something of significant to happen, or at least discuss the most significant thing. We’ll even have an easily safety net for conversation if we can’t think of anything new to talk about: high gas prices.

I proposed this idea to my friend and she instantly thought it was brilliant, because it is.

I even have the built in excuse for calling her less frequently than she calls me: I have a sensible, Japanese sedan, and she has a gas-guzzling American SUV.

I would encourage any of you to steal this idea with your out of town friends. You’ll have better friendships and also look like a genius when you propose it.

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