Hippieish Notes From The Information Desk

Infamously lazy as I am, it’s a damn good thing that for eight hours a week — four hours each on Mondays and Tuesdays — I man my post at a medical office building a couple of miles from my house. If it weren’t for these assignments, long ago I’d have set a world record for hours spent on a living room sofa, and my bony ass would have bored even deeper into my sofa’s cushions than it already has. And it has bored deeply.

Anyway, the medical office building is across the street from a suburban Philadelphia hospital and is owned by an enormous health care organization of which the hospital is another component. I’m a volunteer in that organization. My job is to provide information to visitors (I’m the answer man for questions such as “What room do I go to for my colonoscopy?” and “Where’s the men’s room, pal?”) and to help out those who find themselves in one sort of pickle or another. The job takes me here and there within and outside the building, but most of the time I’m positioned behind a sturdy, unassuming black desk. The information desk.

The information desk

Tuesday the 24th of September was a busy morning for the guy standing behind that desk. Questions came at me left and right. More in-a-pickle people than usual appeared. But, despite that, there were a number of lulls in activity during my shift. Usually nothing to write home about goes on in my mind during lulls. But on the 24th, from absolutely out of nowhere, some words of note silently materialized: “I was more comfortable in the hippie era than in any other era,” I thought to myself.

Wow! The succinct, unexpected notion startled me. And immediately I recognized that it was true. I never was a full-fledged hippie, but during the hippie heyday (1965 to 1972, more or less) I felt at ease with hippie philosophies and lifestyles. And I still do.

Copyright Anna Vynohradova

A baby boomer, I came of age during the hippie era. I’m not mentioning anything you don’t already know when I say that war in Vietnam raged during those years. And that political and social turmoil gripped the USA and other parts of the globe. And that, maybe partly in reaction to those realities, an inquisitive, peaceful and kind mindset developed among many millions of youths worldwide.

Who could argue with hippie slogans such as “Make love not war” and “Flower power”? Not me. I didn’t drop acid, move to San Francisco (the hippie epicenter) or put flowers in my hair. But I did grow my hair long and smoked a lot of cannabis. And I felt nothing but admiration for and solidarity with those who were all about camaraderie, harmony with nature, and attempting to bring peace to the world. Still, I was too unsure of myself to take a full plunge. So, I stayed on the hippie movement’s periphery.

Yeah, those were the days. I miss them. And, later that Tuesday morning, I was reminded of them a number of times while standing behind the information desk. Now, a lot of visitors to the medical office building are friendly towards me, but on most of my shifts one or two are unusually friendly, acting as if seeing my drooping eyelids and wrinkled puss is the greatest thing that’s happened to them in ages. I’m amazed by this. I mean, without even trying did I develop a lofty form of personal magnetism in my over-the-hill years? It ain’t likely. Shit, only in my dreams might Emma Stone or Charlize Theron appear at my doorstep, looking me over with lust in her eyes.

On the Tuesday in question, though, not one or two, but six individuals walked past me with their friendliest instincts at the fore. “How are you, man?” one guy said to me, a big smile on his face. “Take care, brother,” said another, unquestionably meaning what he said. In all six instances it felt good to be greeted so warmly. Real good. This kind of thing happened fairly commonly among the population in the hippie era. That’s because hippies’ good will, thankfully, permeated the culture to a decent extent.

The hippie movement, of course, went way beyond friendliness. Concern for the environment and a pretty wide degree of open-mindedness are among its lasting effects. How cool would it be if a neo-hippie movement, a drug-free incarnation, were to germinate and flourish? And if its good vibes and progressive actions were to become major parts of the norms throughout the world? Man, it would be more than cool. It would be miraculous. Our troubled planet is waiting.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this essay. Mucho gracias.)

123 thoughts on “Hippieish Notes From The Information Desk

  1. candidkay October 11, 2019 / 1:35 pm

    I have a sister that misses the hippie era. She talks about it like you do . . . I’m too young to remember it but I think I get the picture:).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 11, 2019 / 5:43 pm

      Hi. Yeah, there was a strong feeling of grooviness and personal freedom among much of society. Thanks for adding your thoughts. I appreciate it a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. veeds October 20, 2019 / 12:19 pm

    Very nicely written story, Y,AB. Your blogs are always entertaining but this one had a nice combination of nostalgia, observation and insight. I’m not sure if we mostly remember good things about those times, but there was indeed a certain friendliness that seemed to pervade the environment.

    One thing in particular that strikes me as a sort of emblem of the times was a move to get manufacturers to reduce the amount of “packaging” on their goods — whether they be food products or hardware store items. It was just too much packaging, too hard to open, too much waste. Somehow, our society drifted back into the over-packaging mode with hard plastic clamshells that could cut through a finger, for example.

    That was one of our goals back in the day that got shelved (so to speak) but which may be getting resurrected in the new millennium.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 20, 2019 / 3:23 pm

      Hi. Recently I read about a big corporate (maybe Samsung) that has pledged to greatly reduce the amount of packaging that they use for their products. Hopefully most other companies will follow suit.


  3. Sean Crawley October 25, 2019 / 2:37 pm

    It’s odd how the term ‘hippy’ has such negative connotations these days. However, sometimes people I know call me a hippy, and they do it out of endearment.

    Anyway, what is a hippy? My friends when I ask them why they call me a hippy, would say I am calm and happy and not worried about appearances. If you ask people who use the term in a derogatory way, words like, dirty, lazy, bludger and druggy will be vented.

    Hippy haters in general are enslaved in the rat race world of consumerism, debt and trying to get ahead of everyone else in the pack. They can’t stand anyone who is not as enslaved as they are.

    Of course, there are a small percentage of sheeple that dress up as hippies and spout the New Age dogma. These people are enslaved by their own pathological need to belong to a tribe.

    True ‘hippiness’ has nothing to do with clothes or jargon or patchouli oil. It is as you have described: “Peace and Love” in attitude and action.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 25, 2019 / 4:36 pm

      Hi Sean. I don’t agree with all that you say. For the most part, hippies in the 60s and 70s dressed certain ways, had a jargon, etc. They had a lifestyle.

      People who have open minds and want to live freely and in part outside of society’s norms will always, as you say, be a threat to others in society.

      I’m glad to hear from you. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. joylennick October 26, 2019 / 6:34 pm

    Hi Neil, I really enjoyed reading your ‘Hipppie’ post! Although older than you, I too wore long beads and a few fringed and hippie dresses, much to my middle son ‘s embarrassment…(re-reading that suggests you did too…and I don ‘t believe that for a minute!) My youngest son smoked pot for a while and admitted it straight out. He even tried to make me smoke some…but I hated cigarettes…(Fortunately, all three lads eschewed hard drugs.) They’ve grown up to be a great asset to us, bless ’em. The old eyelids are drooping, so I’ll bid you good night..x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 26, 2019 / 9:30 pm

      Hi Joy. I’ve toyed with the idea of smoking pot again, but so far haven’t. But maybe I yet will. Bye till next time!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Crystal Byers October 28, 2019 / 10:18 pm

    I always secretly wanted to be a hippie, but the neo-hippie movement, Neil. You are onto something. ✌🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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