Saturday, July 16, 2011

People Watching - Vacation Style

Like most other writers, I love people watching. I saw lots of interesting folks on my recent mini-vacation. Here are a few...

In the breakfast room at the hotel one morning, a woman and her son ate breakfast near us. He was about 8 - a real cutie and polite to boot. The woman took a cell phone call as soon as we sat down. The boy finished his breakfast within a minute or two of our arrival. He waited while his mom spoke. And waited. And waited. At one point he whispered, "I'm full." She ignored him. Didn't even make eye contact with him. She kept her head down the entire conversation. As we were leaving, I grabbed a pen from my purse and ripped a couple of pages out of my notebook so he could at least draw some stuff. He smiled and me and said a shy, 'Thank you.' She didn't even look up. Makes me wonder how she raised such a sweetie.

On the beach, an elderly couple walked along the water's edge. Slowly. They had big floppy hats on and they'd rolled their pantlegs up. They carried their sandals in their outside hands so they could hold hands with each other as they strolled. Every once in a while one or the other would raise their joined hands to point out something of interest. I want to be them.

One multi-generational family hung out on the beach just in front of us. The gang talked a woman in her late-fifties into trying out a paddle-board type thing. It was wider than a surfboard but about as long. She knelt and paddled around for a bit. Then, with a little prompting, she stood up and paddled. At first she was pretty shaky, but she kept at it - to the cheers of her family. Then one of the young teens snuck up behind her and shook the board. With a shriek she flipped into the water, came up spouting water and giggling like a young girl. Awesome!! She returned the favour later on :)

A rather buff young man tossed a football on the beach with his younger brother. A group of young ladies arrived and set up nearby. Bring on the eye contact, giggling, whispers and the poor little brother having to catch footballs thrown much harder than they'd been before the young ladies arrived.

The thing that surprised me the most however was how many people I saw texting. On the beach. All the time. I think hubby & I were the only people over the age of 12 who didn't have cell phones with them. In the evenings with the sun setting on the horizon in all its glory, there were multiple couples who strolled the water's edge. Cell phones in hand. Texting with someone else. So much for the romance of the moment!

I kept expecting these guys to show up...


I wonder which of these characters will make it into my next story. So, have you spotted anyone fun in your people watching lately?

84 comments:

  1. People-watching is a very pleasant way to pass time. Watching people text however is not. Cell phones are ruining the hobby of people-watching.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Karen - I love people watching! But you're right - people don't do much interacting when they're carrying those cell phones!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I notice the cell phones mostly in restaurants. I've seen a young couple seated at a booth, both with their heads down, either texting or playing games on their phones. Don't people talk anymore?

    I've been married nearly 32 years, and I still hold a conversation with my husband! We could be that older couple on the beach (I love walking along the shore).

    Interesting observations, though. I'll have to start writing mine down, too (because I don't always remember later on - you know, that old age thing!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Stacy - I know! :)

    The phones are becoming attachments. It's kind of bizarre how many people are on them all the time. I don't get it.

    My hubby and I are still able to talk too! I wonder how these people would handle road trips with each other if they couldn't bring phones!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Parents like that first lady annoy me!! Interact with your child, stupid. Actually, cell phones in general annoy me. You're not the only ones who show up at the beach without a cell phone - I don't even own one.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Alex - me too! She's going to regret missing out on so much time with her son. He was a real sweeie!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do love people watching! Crazy stuff goes on -- some people REALLY make me wonder what's wrong with humanity and then some make me feel like all is right in the world. Enjoy your vacay!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mary - it's so much fun, isn't it? :)

    The people at the far ends of the scale are always the most fun to watch - but everyone has a story!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I just returned from a Mother-Daughter gathering (my sister, me, and our two daughters). We were on the shore of Lake Superior. Did a bit of people watching. They seem to do a lot of planking and stacking up there. I'd never heard of either. My niece would find, say, a big pole sticking up out of the ground and she'd lay on her stomach on it, her body rigid. Her mom would take a picture and she'd post it on her Facebook page - that's planking. In stacking, folks would spend tons of time stacking rocks of different sizes and shapes. I saw some amazing stackings.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Helen - I haven't seen planking yet, but quite a few stackings. There's a nearby stretch of highway that has dozens and dozens of inukshuks (inuit signposts) scattered over it. Very cool!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I enjoyed reading your post. My favorite part was the texting. I don't have it on my phone for the reason you stated.
    People watching is fun!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm a avid people watcher as well. Your vignettes were great. This is where great stories come from.
    And yes, it is scary to see how many people are on cell phones talking, texting, or whatever it is they're doing. I sometimes wonder when I see several talkers in a place like a mall, how many are talking to each other?

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, as much as I love people watching, I also find it upsetting. Your story of the mom and her poor son just broke my heart. The fact that you practically called her out on it (by kindly giving him a pen and paper to pass the time) and she didn't even look up (when a stranger approached her kid)...sickens me. Thank you for being kind to him. *hugs* I often wonder why some people have children.

    Yeah, plenty of people are abusing cell phones/texting.

    I hope your mini-vacay was relaxing. :)

    Hugs,
    Lola

    ReplyDelete
  14. Emily - thanks! I probably send/recieve a grand total of 4 texts a month - not my thing at all :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lee - that's so true. Actually it could make the basis for a great murder mystery... hmmm I'll have to think about that one for a bit!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lola - it was a lot of fun!

    That mom really bothered me too. I wish I'd spoken to her, but I'm not good at confrontations. I hope he continues to be a good kid!

    I agree - from a teacher's perspective I so often see people who should never have chosen to have kids. They have no interest in them at all!

    ReplyDelete
  17. That story about the little kid made me incredibly sad. D: Thank you for sharing these folks with us, Jemi - it's always so fun to wonder who these people are and where they came from =]

    ReplyDelete
  18. Loved the post, I haven't found fun but concern.Being a person who loves animals there is a person in the apartment below who has a beautiful cat, the lady is out for days on end and the poor thing is left outside.I have given it water to drink during the hot weather but not sure about food, as I had a cat who was diabetic and if people fed her it could be dangerous, not knowing if downstairs cat has any illnesses I am at a lost.
    Enjoy your week-end;

    ReplyDelete
  19. Riley - it really is! I've always made up stories about strangers. The little guy must have someone in his life who spends time with him - he's got a lot of good qualities!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yvonne - good for you! I can't stand when people don't take care of their animals! It's cruel. I'm glad the cat has you to watch out for her.

    ReplyDelete
  21. More reasons for me to bolster my opinion that mobile phones are EVIL! LOL!!!

    Oh but seriously - great snippets of wonderful characters. That scenario of the little boy was just heartbreaking! Reminded me of how I was on the train, little boy opposite me was so excited because he recognised the pop star Rihanna in the freebie paper his mum gave him to read and kept trying to grab his mum's attention - "look mum, Rihanna!" but of course mum was on her mobile phone and just ignored him completely.

    Mobile phones are evil! :-) Take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
  22. Old Kitty - in some cases, they most certainly are ... or maybe it's just the people using them :) I don't understand parents who ignore their kids like that!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. The people you watched were a lot prettier than mine. I'm so jealous -- beach beats mall every time.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Mary - agreed! And I'd certainly prefer the beach to shopping any day! :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. People can't even use their phones as phones anymore. They have to text! I purchased an IPhone earlier this year and when the girl mentioned text blocking as a feature, I said "Yes!"

    And I hope to be that older couple one day, too.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Diane - it is crazy, isn't it! It's going to be interesting to see what injuries to the thumbs all this texting will cause!

    The older couple was great!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I LOVE to people watch...

    I wrote a wonderful scene at the end of my latest short story that featured people that I had experienced at the beach.

    Sounds like you had a great time.

    Like you I don't understand the cell phone text thing, I hope the younger generation could appreciate the older couple.... if not, out world is in BIG trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Michael - that's awesome. I've never actually written about specific people I've seen - just the emotions that go with it.

    Good point! I'll have to watch for that kind of thing next time!

    ReplyDelete
  29. You are a very observant person and your observations were so well written.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Anita - thanks! I love people and people watching - it's so much fun :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. so true about the texting EVERYWHERE, even at the beach!

    Love the photo!

    Shelley

    ReplyDelete
  32. Shelley - it's amazing how quickly texting has grown. Even five years ago, it wasn't anything like it is now!

    I thought the photo was cute too :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. these are great little snippets! I do sometimes remember to write down the things I see. Agree, I've noticed so many missing out while they're busy texting!!! I don't understand that!!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Terry - I rarely remember to write anything down! Gotta trust that memory ... which is never a good thing!

    I get texting as an easy means of communication - it's very handy. But when you miss out on real life because of it, I don't get it at all!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thanks for sharing, I also love people watching. And we also have this texting disease around everywhere in my country!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Oh gosh, I echo everyone else who has said they can't stand the texting. It's ridiculous. But that was so sweet of you to help entertain the poor young boy. Parents like his mother really irk me, though.

    Anyway, I love people watching too! So interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Nas - thank you! It's amazing how popular texting has become everywhere!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Shelley - it really is fun to watch people and wonder about their stories!!

    Texting is fine in its place, but the pervasiveness of it threw me!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Loved this post. I laughed out loud at the older brother throwing the football harder to impress the girls. The poor little brother! Haha!

    The texting dismays me. :(

    I love people watching, too. In NY last week, we were in Times Square and there was a woman on a hot pink motorcycle, Daisy Duke shorts, and hot pink boots to match. My cousin took a picture - I need to have him email it to me!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Jennifer - you just can't make up people like your Daisy Duke there! That's awesome :)

    The little brother was a trooper - diving all over the place trying to catch that football! :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. I am an avid people watcher too! And I have noticed more and more that people ignore the humans in range for the cold comfort of their digital communications. On dates no less! Sad.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Jo - exactly! It's the people who are in romantic settings with people they supposedly like & who then spend the whole time texting that I don't understand at all! Bizarre!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. People watching is interesting. It's amazing where inspiration can strike.

    Poor boy. I hope it was a regular occurrence.

    ReplyDelete
  44. hahaha I love the pic. I'm not a natural texter. I'd prefer to enjoy the moment and the people I'm currently with. Great observations. I love people watching.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I love people watching! You learn so much about characterization just paying attention to those around you.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Theresa - I hope so too. He was such a cutie I think maybe it was... I hope.

    People watching is fun :)

    ReplyDelete
  47. Lynda - me too. I do like find texting very handy in certain situations, but I much prefer real people! :)

    ReplyDelete
  48. Carol - I know! People really are the most interesting creatures! That's why they make such characters I guess :)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Fabulous observations. People watching is my favorite sport. Only wish it burnt more calories. :)

    I never text unless I'm forced to, but Mr. VR and I were in a restaurant this weekend and the first thing we did after we sat down was to pull out our cells and check email. He agreed, it was wrong. Then as soon as we started looking at the menu, he was back on his phone searching for dish recommendations. What happened to asking the waitstaff to recommend something??? Smart phones may be the death of social interaction.

    ReplyDelete
  50. VR - that's so funny! I don't have a smart phone - just a plain old flip phone with no texting plan! :) But I think you're right - they're really having an impact on social lives!!

    ReplyDelete
  51. People watching allows you to learn all sorts of interesting things about other people. :) I love the little window scenes you've shared with us. The boy sounds so lovely -- I'm glad you gave him some papers to draw on!

    (And I'm with you: I'd love to become that elderly couple one day.)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Emy - it is so fun! People are SO interesting :)

    Being that elderly couple on the beach is now my new aim in life :)

    ReplyDelete
  53. OMG that picture kills me! LOL. The only thing I can say is I hope that mother had a really big reason for that phone call. I suppose there could be a story in that!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Lisa - Isn't it a great photo - cracks me up every time I see it. You're right - that would make a terrific story .. maybe with a Dr Who twist :)

    ReplyDelete
  55. I have--someone I see weekly is a living charicature...and I only recently realized it.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Lydia - it's funny how suddenly we 'see' things we didn't before when we really start to look! :)

    ReplyDelete
  57. I'm at school all day with teenagers, so I'm always surrounded by interesting characters :)

    ReplyDelete
  58. Please visit my blog to see if you won a prize.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Charmaine - teenagers are definitely interesting! I've got the younger set, but they're fun too! :)

    ReplyDelete
  60. No, I stay at home on Tuesdays to write. But I did get out for a little chicken watching. Our young flock is hilarious to watch. They are like your teenagers but without technology. Or much in the way of brains. Wait a minute...ah fugedaboudid.
    Jan Morrison

    ReplyDelete
  61. I'm amazed at how often people text--and where! I've seen a couple times where a young couple will be on a date, and one or the other will be texting the whole time. I mean, REALLY?! Maybe you need to find a new date if they're that uninteresting, haa.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Jemi - Interesting little vignettes into the people around you. I do like to people watch sometimes. On our recent trip to LA, I didn't do too much people watching though. Hollywood in particular was just too many people to try to take it all in. :)
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

    ReplyDelete
  63. Jan - I think that describes a whole passel of teenages! :) I do seem to remember my own brain disappearing at regular intervals when I was a teen! :)

    ReplyDelete
  64. Jessica - exactly!! I can't imagine being very impressed with my hubby if he texted while we were out and on a 'date'! Mind you he won't text at all, says his hands are just too big :)

    ReplyDelete
  65. Lisa - I can't imagine! That area seems to be so FULL of people - hard to imagine for a small city girl :) It would be hard to stay focused on one thing/person for long!

    ReplyDelete
  66. I love people watching. And it is fodder for fiction writing.

    I notice the same with texting. People are right in front of the texters, but they're more absorbed with their phones.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Medeia - it's sad when you see people more absorbed with their technology than the people around them!

    People watching is a LOT of fun :)

    ReplyDelete
  68. I like to people watch, but haven't done much of it lately. Sounds like you had a fun vacation at the beach.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Susanne - we did! It was only a couple of days, but it was terrific! :)

    ReplyDelete
  70. I people watch all the time. I like to laugh at stuff that happens, as long as no one gets hurt. Seeing people trip over themsleves or drop something is funny. But I'll laugh at anything, again, as long as no one is hurt.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Stephen - it can be quite entertaining :) I love when I see what looks like a stereotype, but the person totally acts against type!

    ReplyDelete
  72. People watching is fun. They do things I could never make up.

    ReplyDelete
  73. M Pax - I agree - there are so many great situations that you just can't make up! :)

    ReplyDelete
  74. But that elderly couple weren't texting, were they? I bet they didn't even own a mobile phone and were happier for it. Sometimes my mobile is a pain. If one of the kids doesn't reply straight away to my texts I'm panicking.

    Some lovely observations here. You've got material for so many stories now.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Rosalind - that's true - the elderly couple weren't texting! And with the technology we expect such immediate responses - we're not used to waiting any more! :)

    ReplyDelete
  76. Aw, that poor little guy! My heart breaks.

    I always try to leave behind my mobile if I go out somewhere, because I just want to enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
  77. Talli - I know - I felt bad for him too. I hope it was an isolated incident.

    Phones are handy and helpful - but they can really absorb some people completely!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  78. Jemi, haven't seen inukshuks. They sound cool.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Helen - they really are! It's fun to drive along the highway and spot them. We tried counting them once, but kept losing track... :)

    ReplyDelete
  80. I'll admit something: Moms on their phones generally drive me crazy. I have a mobile for emergencies, but that's it. Put that woman in your novel someday. She deserves it! :)

    Amy
    P.S. But just now I was convicted because I'm sitting here typing this comment with a child standing next to my chair trying to get my attention ... so, maybe I shouldn't be so critical! *sigh*

    ReplyDelete
  81. Amy - she definitely does! I'm hoping it was a one time thing.

    You make me laugh though! It's true, all of our kids get put 'on hold' once in a while - but that's much different than being ignored :)

    ReplyDelete
  82. Just got back from Vegas, the people watching Mecca. I found myself pulling out my little purse sized notepad and jotting down lots of oddities. Fun, fun, fun.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Leslie - I'll bet it is! You'd sure get all kinds of folks in Vegas!! You must have a gold mine of info now! :)

    ReplyDelete