Dear Journal: People Watching

2115-file-image-of-people-shopping-at-targetDear Journal,

Weekends at work are always interesting because so many people who don’t shop during the week show up in droves on Saturday or Sunday and make the time go faster with their questions. Besides, it gives me time and opportunity to people watch, the clear highlight to most of my days.

Today, for instance, I saw a family of four over by the cracker aisle. Both kids were riding in a cart that was also overflowing with pillows, food, and various other items. The father was pushing, but he had this harried look on his face, like this wasn’t his idea of a fun Saturday afternoon. Ahead of the cart the mother was comparing brands of crackers, and I couldn’t help comparing them to my own family. I wondered if others see me the same way I saw that father.

Then there was the man muttering to himself as he passed by Shoes. He had these thick glasses on, and even though I said hi to him as I passed he didn’t acknowledge me in any way. I wondered how he got to the store, and how he was going to get back home. Perhaps he was just preoccupied in that moment, or maybe it was something more, but it wasn’t my place to figure it out right then. He wandered off through Bedding and disappeared from sight, still talking under his breath.

And the couple who were fighting but were trying to hide it, but something about their body language defied the subterfuge. The tilt of her head, his standoffish gaze, and the silence that punctuated their passage while she picked up avocados and he pretended to check his phone. They looked like they belonged together, too, with her haughty demeanor perfectly matched to his “who cares?” attitude. In my mind I wished them a long life together with many such outings in their future.

I guess it’s just interesting to me to see these people existing out in the wild, and not just in the pages of some book, or in my own imagination. That’s where it’s at for a novelist, honestly. That’s where I get the impetus for so many of my characters, and in one of my books a long time from now I might even put that in the dedication page. “To all those people I watched at one time or another: thank you.”



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