Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I was at a busy coffee shop this morning at the busiest transit station in the city, sitting in a comfy chair with my caffeine and yet another ethics code (the two things you can most regularly see me accompanied by these days!). I found myself becoming distracted by the people surrounding me... not their conversation per se, but by what I perceived to be their stories.

I am a people-watcher, sometimes to an extreme degree. I take care to identify most of the people in a busy bar, and point out odd details about them to anyone with me. I eavesdrop on conversations. I look in people's windows when I walk by. I make up stories about the other people in the coffee shop, and theorize about their relationships to one another. I have hampered this tendency somewhat via my assimilation into the norms of the big city... as such, I put on my headphones like everyone else, and stare off into the window. However, I still covertly turn off my iPod if something interesting seems to be going on around me.

Once a friend told me that he sometimes thinks in music. I believe that I sometimes think in movies. I take a setting, picture the opening camera angle, background noises, and integrate the people around me into the various scenes. Sometimes I do this in an overly conscious manner, planning exactly what would be the next thing to happen. Other times, I just sit back, and let the film develop, and eventually determine who the chief characters would be.

I suppose this fits well with someone in my field. I remember when I was in my first practicum placement, one of my favourite new priveleges was having access to client files, and being able to read the background stories of the people I met. Apparently other students found this novel at first, but eventually bored of it. Not me. I also devour case studies.

One of the weirder things about this tendency is that I also assume that others are doing the same thing. I then put myself into their heads, and imagine what they must be thinking about me. What stories do they project onto me? How accurate are they? The funny thing about this self-centred indulgence is that they likely do none of this... but I still pretend.


Indiana James said...

I love people watching. It's so telling. People give away so much about themsevles when they think no one else is looking. The whole premise is solid foundation for a good story or as you see it, a movie.

Airam said...

This is why I love blogland. It gives you a different medium of eavesdropping into people's heads but it's not such a bad thing because you are in a sense invited to look.

Dorky Dad said...

Yeah, people watching is great. My problem is that people get mad and try and call the cops just because I'm using "binoculars" and happen to be on "their property" looking in "their window."

Beth said...

I do this too.
I think a rich fantasy life is great!

LMizzle said...

Oh man I am so all over this. I LOVE when people leave the blinds open at night. It's like watching a movie being projected onto the side of a home.
Also, when I worked at the Bux, the employees would always try to identify stories about the people who bought coffee when it was a slow day. There was even a table at one of the stores I worked at that we deemed the "first date or breakup" table because it rarely drew any other kind of person.
Oh man, there's gonna be so much people watching in Vancouver!!!

Ant said...

Yeah, I do this too - though I don't spend enough time in coffee bars and the like to indulge it (I really want to...)

The thing that strikes me is that absolutely everything is a movie - even the tiniest, most apparently boring people and conversations tell some kind of emotional story. The human condition is the most fascinating thing in the world ever...

eric1313 said...

I do it, too. We all do. It's all fodder for the story writing machine inside of us.

Hey, is blogger eating your comments? Or did you not visit yet? It's all good either way. I was just wondering. I changed my comment box back to the page because it works better. But the thing is, I see all kinds of visitors on my blog tracker and fewer comments. Maybe I'm just paranoid. Oh well, I hope you are well.

And in case you were wondering, yes, my car's engine really did catch fire the other night. It was scary indeed. My cell phone quit working and I had ti hitch hike home.

Luckily, I look tough, so nobody's going to mess with me enough to find out I'm actually a geekish pushover.


peace and love, you!