Have you ever found yourself getting caught up in watching people? Maybe you wonder what they’re thinking, what their lives are like, where they’re going and more importantly, why they’re dressed the way they are?
Most of you are saying…um…NO. Well, I love watching people. I blame it on my Mom. When we would go out for dinner and there was an inevitable wait, she would entertain us kids by pointing at a couple outside the window and asking “What do you suppose they are talking about out there?” And that’s how my people watching got started.
The stories we would create would have us laughing through the whole meal as our unsuspecting thespians carried on their business, which was, inevitably, not even close to the stories we painted for them.
In order to fully appreciate wandering humans, I must be out in public with nothing to do. Like waiting for someone to finish errands while you wait in the car.
Nobody knows I’m just sitting here in my car…watching them. People scurry through the parking lot, pretty much oblivious to everything except what’s on their shopping list. At least, that’s the safe thing to think.
I see plenty of friends wandering in and out of the store. I’m too lazy to get out and say hello, so instead I just wonder how they’re doing and make a quick mental list of people I need to catch up with. Beyond that, it’s more fun to pretend what strangers are thinking when they walk by.
Oh goodie, there’s a woman in her late fifties, wearing bright orange spandex pants and a halter top under her parka. Here’s what she’s might be thinking: “I’d better hurry or I’ll be late for my Vegas Revue. Must get more mascara and pasties, and check on my pole dancing class.”
See how easy it is? That’s how it works.
There’s a lovely young man with a bouquet of flowers leaving the store. He wipes his brow and is talking to himself. Is he rehearsing an apology? A proposal? A request for a first date? The possibilities are endless, but I settle on the apology. It’s the middle of the day, after all. He probably stayed out too late playing poker, and really – what guy buys his woman flowers in the middle of the day for no reason at all?
There’s a harried father with two toddlers, one already pointing at the store, no doubt asking if she can hang out in the cereal or toy aisle. He’s contemplating it, but he’s also probably thinking his daughter will tell his wife when they get home, and that won’t be pretty. He pulls out the shopping list before he heads in through the noiseless sliding doors. He squares his shoulders like a man going off to war. His momma would be proud.
Sometimes, watching people is so entertaining that I’m almost disappointed when make-believe time is over. I didn’t even have a chance to think about the teenage couple holding hands, the gentleman that comes out with loads of soda cans, or the elderly lady getting out of the taxi.
The next time you’re waiting anywhere, make up your own story about the strangers walking by. Don’t be mean and judgemental, be creative. Strangers, if they notice you at all, will be confused by the mysterious smile on your face…and that will be amusement enough.