I am a People Watcher
I remember being a little girl, I was sometimes called a daddy’s girl and maybe it was true. I did hang out with my dad a lot mostly because my mom went to work very early and had stricter hours where as my dad was still going to school and working and had a bit more of a flexible schedule. My dad and I did a lot of things together before school and daycare. I remember feeding the ducks at the Berkeley Marina, riding in a huge truck to daycare. I have a lot of “broken” memories as well. Some of my memories are crystal clear as if they happened yesterday while others are cloudy and mixed with other memories in a mesh of visions.
Some of my best memories have to do with people watching something my dad taught me to do early on. It was not like a lesson there were no steps to learn. It was just something I knew how to do from watching him. So it was no surprise that even though I went for accounting for my undergraduate degree that I ended up with sociology as my major. I was drawn to people in so many ways mostly as a spectator and am still very intrigued by people to this day.
I guess I have always been a sociologist. I have been watching people since I was little and was quickly hooked on the “sport”. I still love to people watch to the point where my friends (yes even I have friends) wonder if I am having fun. Of course I am having fun even though I might not be completely interacting; I love being a fly on the wall while watching others’ interactions. People say and do the most amazing, funny, crazy and bizarre things. No matter where I am I can people watch for hours whether I am at my kids’ games or the bar or the dance club or even just walking down the street anywhere I am is a great place for me to people watch. And it always seems like I am seeing the weirdest stuff. A few months ago I was at a drug store and watched as a man was arrested for stealing condoms while his pregnant woman went into premature labor (most likely brought on by the excitement), it was amazing seeing one person leave in a police car while the other left in an ambulance. WTF?!? That incident left me with too many questions. Why was he stealing condoms? Why did he bring his pregnant woman with him? Of course there were many more questions as well. This was just one experience but these types of events keep me interested and drawn to people watching.
But how did it all start? How did I get hooked on people watching? One of my first memories of people watching was sitting in the car with my dad and my cousins as we were waiting to pick up another family member. We were all in the car when this guy who was obviously drunk was trying to cross the street. He looked like the happiest man on Earth. The man had a huge smile on his face like he had just run into an old friend. The man had just walked out of a store and had a paper bag in his hand. I now know that the store was a liquor store and what he was carrying in the bag was alcohol but even with my limited knowledge at the time I was still able to learn so much from this experience. Everyone in the car watched as this man tried to cross the street on intoxicated legs. He grasped his bag tightly or so we thought because after about two clumsy steps from the curb that bag went crashing to the ground. Glass shattered everywhere (this was way before plastic liquor bottles). You would have thought that the people watching would have ended there because there was no more bottle and nothing left for the man to do but we kept watching as he looked down on the ground at the broken bag, shattered glass, and liquid sprawled across the pavement. The man was just standing in the crosswalk looking down in disbelief at the remains his hands were on his head, he was shaking his head maybe wishing he could turn back time and get that bottle back. As he stood there he kept looking back and forth from the liquor store to the broken bottle back to the store and then the bottle again. The man tried to take a step away while he kept looking back at the bottle. He would take a step, look back and then shake his head in disbelief. The bottle of liquor was gone but he didn’t want to believe it trying to will the bottle back with each and every step he took as he walked away in defeat. His final motion after he got to the other side of the street was to wave off the mess on the ground as if to say I am done with you. Oh yeah that bag was done with him along time ago.
In that first people watching session I was hooked I learned so much about people in one fell swoop I saw happiness and despair, I saw the stages of grief that people go through with the loss, of course, its usually the loss of a loved one not of a bottle of alcohol but for this man it was one and the same. That bottle was his friend and it was now gone.
Ever since I was little and hanging out with my dad I have been watching people; its what I know, its what I do, its how I have fun and it definitely defines me as a person. People-watching is more than an escape for me, it really helps me to understand people; it is my sport and hobby and I definitely do not do it enough.