Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Small Joys

People watching, quite possibly the best past time. My office window overlooks an arts college and all day long the street life unfolds beneath me. Early in the morning businessmen rush to work and students hang about on steps smoking or chatting. Mid-morning the construction and city workers hang about on those same steps smoking and chatting and following every pretty girl with their eyes down the block. Late afternoon the mothers and nannies push babies in strollers or chase after small children trying to get away. Evening, the street dies. We are in a residential area. Only the lone car drives by every few minutes.

It can be so much fun to people watch, to catch snippets of another person's conversation and life, to catch them in a boring moment, a thrilling moment, an emotional moment, an angry moment. Angry moments can be quite entertaining as people bare their soul to the world around them in an effort to express themself to whomever they're walking with or yelling at on a cell phone.

Different parts of the city bring about entirely different personalities. People watching in Central Park, Harlem, Wall Street, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Queens, even on 5th Avenue in comparison to York. Even the homeless seem to select the parts of the city that reflect their personality. Homeless people in Central park are often much friendlier than homeless people curled up outside a store on Lexington - perhaps because they're also just visiting for the day and consider it their vacation.

If you people watch in one area frequently enough, you'll notice the regulars, those who have the same schedule. If you switch your schedule, you'll discover a whole new group of regulars. I love naming regulars on personality. This was much easier in university when regulars could be spotted in the cafeteria based on class schedule, regulars in NY are hard to spot unless you yourself are a regular. It has happened before that after naming a regular I've become friends with the regular. It is so difficult to remember their actual name , I always feel that the one I've given them is just so much more appropriate, Adonis is so much more unique than Jack, Fraggle Rock is so much more unique than Lisa. Of course, rarely does Lisa appreciate knowing her past name was Fraggle Rock no matter how striking the resemblance.

I only hope people don't misunderstand me, I don't follow people. I watch people, you do too. You just may not have taken it to an art form which gives you so much joy as this gives me. Try it. Listen to three words of a conversation, watch the person's gait, check out their shoes and hair, and then try to imagine what they ate for breakfast, what they enjoy doing in their free time, what sort of work they do. Chances are that all of your surmising is wrong, but that's ok cuz you're not their shrink, you've just gone outside of yourself and entered another person's life momentarily. Who doesn't like making new friends, or at least watching potential friends walk by?

1 comment:

Irene said...

beautiful, what an observation!