People

People watching is one thing, but people watching with a notebook is something else entirely. I sit and wait in trepidation for the suspicious glares, the looks that will turn from glances in mild interest into guilt-inducing stares once my subjects realize what I’m doing. They never come. Instead, the bus riders, the pedestrians, the midday shoppers stay caught up with their thoughts. The looks of disinterest upon so many faces seem to be reflective of the gray in the week-old snow, the cement, the river water. iPods on, cellphones out, their world disconnected from everyone else’s, a distinctive orbit. This realized, my guard is lowered and my senses sharpened as characters emerge from the stage that passes by me.

There’s California boy, with his Hollister t-shirt and flip-flops in February. There are the suits and pencil skirts, taking a break from their busy days in office buildings, ties loosened, one or two blouse buttons undone, but keeping the Bluetooth headpieces in as an omnipresent fixture attached to their ears. The ones with a purpose know where they need to go and don’t let anything get in their way. Whether alone or with a friend, there is only silence and no time for trivialities. The fun part does not exist in between for these folks, grim determination set in their mouths as they rush to beat out their fellow shoppers and rivals for the Next Best Deal. Fun is going home and relishing in these sundries. It’s the product, not the act itself, that is the thrill. Then there are the meanderers, killing a free hour, or maybe a free day. Wandering around the floors, up elevators and back down again, for them it’s the atmosphere of freedom that appeals to them. At two o’clock in the afternoon, no one is here to give them responsibilities or tasks. They have the ability to pick through racks of clothes without feeling any need to but anything, or they can walk out with bags full. Once they get home, the belt, the cute shoes, will go to the back of the closet, but in the moment it’s important. It’s the definition of impulse.

Then there are six or so other people like me, no obligation but to observe, who notice things previously looked over. There’s a good chance that after the assignment is handed in, the file erased from my computer in years to come, I will fill one of these clichés, these niches in society, but right now I just want to watch.





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Buba said...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 10:13 am
Izzi's insightful comments provide an evocative feelings of knowing some of the people she describes.  I think this paper deserved an "A"  Issi is a wonderful writer.
 
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