people-watching at the liquor store
some observations of humanity
If asked to rank my favorite pastimes, I would have to put people watching in the top three. I love it, I love to see how people ping-pong through the world. And, as something of a dedicated hobbyist, I feel qualified in asserting that there are some kinds of people-watching that are better than others.
For instance, people watching is best when the people you’re watching are deeply lengaged in thought — when they’re in their own little worlds. There are certain situations conducive to this. People tend to be engaged in thought when they’re running errands, like walking into a liquor store or through the aisles of a grocery store. Or when they’re walking home from work. Most people, when deep in thought, wear their emotions on their faces. And the emotions are fun to watch; even if they are slightly unfulfilling to the people-watcher because you don’t know why that guy in a boxy suit is angry-frowning as he stomps home from work. Of course, the real fun is in making up a story as to why he’s angry-frowning.
What’s best is when people are snapped out of their own little worlds. When they have to move instantaneously from the inner world to the outer world. The man in a boxy suit, angry-frowning into the pavement has to look up and greet an old coworker. The shift of his face snapping into place. Or when he has to stop at a crosswalk and then you get to watch him examine the bar on the corner and consider stopping in for a beer. I like that split moment.
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