Powers of Observation

Have you ever spent time in a coffee shop or a pub? (Bar or lounge to you non-British influenced folks.) I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how I enjoy sitting in a coffee shop and reading. What I may not have mentioned before, is my enjoyment for people watching. In the most non-stalkerish way imaginable. 🙂 And anyway, who hasn’t done their fair share of people watching?

Even before I was old enough to appreciate the quiet time I could get in the corner of a busy coffee shop, I liked to people watch. I remember sitting in the mall with a friend when we were fifteen or sixteen years old and watching the other patrons walk by. We’d get pretty involved and create background stories for them. We’d improvise some dialogue then laugh at our own inventiveness.

Now, I refrain from spouting dialogue, but I haven’t stopped people watching. I enjoy observing people in a common space like a bar or coffee shop and seeing how they interact. Not just with their companion, but the baristas or servers. I like to see how kind people are with each other and how animated a discussion can become.

Last night, I was out with a friend and we noticed an interesting pair in the coffee shop we stopped in. There was an elderly gentleman who was perhaps 4’11” tall and about 75 years old. With him was an elegant-looking young woman, maybe 26 years old, and she was maybe 5’10” tall. My friend and I noticed this couple, we looked at each other and both wondered out loud what the story was there. We weren’t being malicious, just curious. How could you not be looking at such an odd pair? What was the story? Who knew? I just know it was probably a good story.

Observing people contributes a lot to my work as a writer. How else would I learn how people interact outside my own family or circle of friends – side note: I don’t get out a lot and have a limited, close circle of acquaintances. I’m not complaining, I’m just explaining that if I want to see how other people act with each other, then I need to get out and see how they act. I’m not saying I eavesdrop, though sometimes you can’t help it. It’s shocking sometimes how much people will say in a public, busy setting, when you think you’re anonymous. It certainly makes it easier for me to imagine their backstory in those cases.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that you ought to be careful how you act out there in those busy places. Take care with what you say or how you say it. A writer could be sitting behind you, taking notes. 🙂

Take care and happy reading.



Filed under Writing

5 responses to “Powers of Observation

  1. Susan

    I love to people watch especially in airports. Your post reminded me about my husbands elderly uncle. He was a Catholic priest and we had great affection for one another. He would always joke with me when we were out together at restaurants, airports or Broadway shows, especially when he was wearing his clericals, what other people thought of us. He said he often imagined that they would wonder what a looker (his word) was doing with an old fuddy duddy priest. I always laughed with him but I can only imagine.

  2. Lady Falcon

    People watching is fun and I have sat and make up stories in the mall with either my husband or another friend. It is entertaining and so much cheaper than buying stuff in the stores. 🙂

    On an unrelated topic…I bought Agent Alpha and Undercover last week along with a few other books for my Kindle. I finally got around to reading AA toward the end of the week and am now reading Undercover. I forced myself to go write a review at Amazon before I responded to your post because I know myself and how I procrastinate. 🙂
    I just wanted to tell you…well done, T. Well done. I have a thing for first kisses and, oh darlin’, have you delivered. The storyline is great too and the action; but, those first kisses, (fanning myself with my Kindle) whew! How come none of the hockey guys kiss like that? Or do I need to go back and reread those stories?

    • Well, I’m no expert, so… Yeah, you should just go back and reread all those stories. 😉

      • Lady Falcon

        lol…I will…but it would be so much easier if they were all compiled and grouped some how on my Kindle. That way I could take them with me wherever i go instead of having to find time to sit at the pc to read them. I’d BUY them from Amazon in other words. 🙂 You know I’ve read everything you have on Lit at least twice. Some of the hockey stories 4 times…ok…maybe I skipped around a bit the 4th time I read them…lol

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