Wednesday, August 09, 2006

People Watching

by Connie S. Hall

Most of my mother’s family lived in Spanish Fork, Utah and it was no surprise that when I was a young girl of about 10 we moved back to the town of my birth. During my teen years, I became aware that every Saturday morning an aunt and uncle drove their car to town and parked on Main Street where they watched all the people coming to town. I remember as a young girl snickering about someone who would do such a silly thing.

The older I get I find myself doing the same thing I use to poke fun at them for. I don’t go to the extreme my aunt and uncle did, but still I spend time watching people. I have learned you discover many interesting things about people if you take the time to observe them.

During my recent trip to England, I had the best opportunity I’ve ever encountered to watch people. After spending an entire day touring London we caught the underground that took us to Victoria Station so we could catch a train to East Grinstead where we were staying. We missed our train by only a few minutes so had almost an entire hour with nothing to do. The only available seat was a cement slab in front of the gate that some of the people would be going through to reach their train. Above my head were the departure signs.

This was a perfect setting. The expressions on the people’s faces as they studied or scanned the sign were priceless. Some of them would squint, while other looked wide-eyed, many scratched their head or their nose. Several talked on their phone while others were eating. A number of people rushed by hardly looking at the sign above, and others ran as though their life depended on catching the train. I saw expressions of puzzlement, relief, and horror filling the many faces.

One dear woman stood for a long time looking at her watch, then the sign, and then her watch. She did this over, and over again, looking puzzled. Finally, as though a light turned on she quickly hurried through the gate.

My favorite person was a young man with brown hair standing straight up, glasses upon his nose, and a bag slung over his shoulder. He stood with a thumb in his pants pocket, and his forehead wrinkled as he stood staring up at the sign. I couldn’t tell he was even reading anything because he just stood there as still as a statue.

Next time I watch people I’m going to locate another perfect setting. I discovered the setting is an important part of the watching.

1 comment:

Darvell Hunt said...

I love people watching. I believe the the best writers are those who watch people. How else could we know how to write about people--about what they do, what they say, and how the react to what others do and say?

Good blog. The thought makes me more self-conscious now when in a group of writers.