People Watching


I must confess, I people-watch. It’s not something intentional, it just…happens. People interest me, and there’s a wealth of story fodder in what you see and hear if you walk around paying attention.

So when I’m running errands, sitting at a stoplight, walking through a neighborhood–any time and place where I’m not engaged in conversation or interaction (or caught up in dreaming)–the people around me immediately grab my attention. Like the guy in the vitamin shop with arms as big as both my thighs put together. How do you develop muscles like that? And why would you want to? Or the older gentleman with long white hair and beard, an anomaly in current society. Or the woman with deep purplish-red scars on her neck. There’s a story behind each, I’m certain.

When someone catches my eye, I want to stare…or even ask “excuse me, can I take your picture?” However, thus far I’ve contented myself with taking surreptitious glances out of the corner of my eye and hoping no one notices.

Perhaps the most uncanny experience I’ve had in my people-watching career was when a complete stranger walked into a prayer meeting who looked just like a character from one of my (as yet unwritten) books. I wanted to feast my eyes on one of my “creations” come to life and I snuck quite a few glances, enough to firmly imprint her face on my memory!

But it’s not just the people with unique physical characteristics that catch my eye, it’s the mannerisms and quirks, the unusual word choices, all the things that make people interesting and unique. As Anne Shirley would say, there’s such great “scope for the imagination.”

So, do you people watch? What are some of the most amusing or intriguing encounters you’ve had?


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