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The Life-Changing Act of Saying Hello

Nov 16, 2017 | 831 videos
Video by Ivan Cash

William Cromartie is a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station agent who finds meaning through the simple act of saying hello. Every day, William greets 4,000 Oakland commuters—fist-bumping, shaking hands, and hugging people from all walks of life. The UC Berkeley graduate and former entrepreneur thinks it's the best job in the world.

In Agent of Connection, a short documentary by Ivan Cash, Cromartie shares his inspiring philosophy, which is predicated on the act of transcending personal barriers and promoting agency.

“If you’re in a corner, or in a box, it’s not necessarily because someone put you there,” Cromartie says in the film. “It’s because you’ve agreed to be in that box. Once you realize that you’re responsible, everything starts to change. When I see people who feel like they don’t belong, I feel responsible to show them that they do.”

Like thousands of other Bay Area commuters, Cash met Cromartie in his Oakland BART station. “No other station agents come out to greet commuters,” Cash told The Atlantic, “and after walking past him and being greeted by him enough times, I decided to ask him to get coffee and learn more about his story. After we met and chatted for an hour or so, I knew I had to make a film about him.”

“Working as a BART station agent isn’t a job I thought would ever be someone’s dream,” Cash continued. “I love hearing him talk about how rewarding it is. It’s a reminder [of] how subjective life is.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.