These days, attention can come in many shapes and forms and that we need to be open to all of it, animate and inanimate alike.

Is it just me? Or are other people responding to attention from inanimate sources in unique ways?

I ask because, well, I have developed definite feelings for such sources.

Take my YMCA kiosk. For the record, and until recently, I have never given the dumb thing a second thought. I punch in my code, it sets up my workout routine, I press OK, end of story.

But last week, out of the blue, it congratulated me for reaching a certain level of fitness. “Anne!” it said in big, bold, knee-weakening letters. “Congratulations! You have reached the medallion level of fitness!”

I remember thinking, “Whoa. Not only does the kiosk know my name, but it has been tracking my workouts with astonishing attention.”

I felt so flattered. Honestly, I wanted to hug the silly box.

A day later, I experienced a similar feeling when I opened my email inbox and discovered four incredibly personal emails from complete strangers. Sue from AirTran wished me a happy birthday; Chuck from Kodak Gallery said he missed me and offered 20 percent off to get back on track; Mike from Staples wanted to help me with my slow PC; and Sara from Macy’s asked me to participate in a bra makeover.

Again, I felt so special. I mean, my birthday? A 20-percent-off coupon? PC assistance? A new bra? I’ve never felt so known.

“Girlfriend,” you might be saying to yourself, “you are starved for attention.” I hear what you’re saying, but, no, I’m fine.

I am simply pointing out that, these days, attention can come in many shapes and forms and that we need to be open to all of it, animate and inanimate alike.

And I emphatically say “need” because you just never know when you will be craving a little recognition — perhaps a pat on the back for filling the salt shaker, maybe a shout-out for some rockin’ socks — and no one is around to give it.

No one with a heartbeat, that is. Which is precisely why inanimate attention holds such great allure.

Looking back, I understand why that YMCA kiosk swept me off my feet. My self-esteem, as I recall, was on shaky ground that particular morning. My greatest cooking fan, my daughter, had just left for college; no one had noticed my weeks-old haircut; the birds were ignoring the stocked feeder; and my husband had asked (again) what was wrong with my pinkie toe. And so, I had limped into the Y, feeling rather bedraggled. No surprise then why the kiosk had me at “Anne.”

Looking ahead, I believe inanimate attention is the wave of the future. It’s always available, it’s acutely tuned in, and — key here — it does not notice misshaped appendages.

Anne Palumbo writes for Messenger Post Media. Email her at avpalumbo@aol.com.