Wednesday, July 6, 2011

People Watching

Don't you love people watching? You know, sitting in a public place, watching people go about their lives. I like to make up stories of why they are there or where they're going. Several years ago, we used to spend countless hours in airports waiting to see if we could get on the next flight. My son and husband hated it, but I found great pleasure in reading a good book, knitting, and people watching. The later is quite ironic since I did a lot of whining from the backseat as a child when my parents could spend an eternity watching people going in and out of stores. Little did I know those observations as a child were research training for developing characters.
One of my favorite people watching events was really gross but I'll never forget it. It happened early one morning while we were waiting for a flight in San Jose, California. We had been flying all night and were rerouted to this smaller airport. I remember the early morning sun streaming through the windows and it seems like there were mountains in the area. We were exhausted but it was such a peaceful sunny morning as the city of San Jose opened its eyes. All of a sudden I heard the unmistakable sound of someone throwing up their breakfast all over the floor on the walkway in front of us. Without hesitation, the person just kept walking. I searched the area for someone with supplies to take care of the mess. Before the cleanup could happen, a young business man came running, evidently late for his flight to attend some big meeting--nice suit, tie, briefcase. Well, he hit that disgusting mess and went down. I felt so sorry for him. He looked around like--what am I supposed to do now? I've wondered for years what he did to attend his meeting with some form of dignity.

I watch people in stores, in cars stopped at the stoplight beside me, and at school--oh yeah, school holds a wealth of people watching for a children's writer. I am a fiction writer so all my characters are invented...but...if you know me, you'll never know if I might use a little bit of you in a character. 

Even watching animals and the birds in your backyard can be useful. Matter of fact, my husband and I are considering becoming urban chicken farmers. We can have up to six chickens in our subdivision. It is an older area of town where some of our neighbors have horses, sheep, and yes, chickens. I am thinking that chickens just might make for some interesting watching. Check back next spring when we hope to begin our venture. I'll let you know how our egg producing females compare with humans. 


  1. I like to people watch, too. And I would like chickens if I didn't have to take care of them. Do you hire out?

  2. Hopefully, we'll be sharing eggs! :-)

  3. Aunt Helen,

    Tony and I just recently found ourselves people watching at the entrance at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. We didn't actually enter the gates of the park, we didn't have to, we experienced the sights and smells, the adventure within our imaginations just by people watching while sitting on a bench right beside the entrance. We sat for about a half an hour, holding hands in silence. Watching the Mickey Mouse ear hats, the Wizard hats and wands, the Goofy t-shirts. Then we turned to one another and I said, "Ready?" We left, and returned to our hotel across the street having felt as though we had experienced the magic of Disneyland too, but through people watching! Now we definitely can't wait to actually go to Disneyland!