Watching humans

Without a doubt, people watching is an amazing exercise in confusion and humor.

I love to watch humans. I try to figure out what their story is, who they are, do they walk with confidence, do they appear shy, are they gregarious, what do their clothes tell me and so on. If you want a writing prompt then people watching can give you plenty.

This morning I was in a lobby just as people were changing shifts and the human interactions were telling. A tall security guard carrying an ice chest lunch box strides out of the elevator on his way home passes a cute petite woman who responds shyly to his bright hello. Who are they? Why is she shy? What makes his walk so peppy and his greeting so cheerful?

The best people watching is done in shopping malls and airports. There are crowds of people moving in different directions, talking, juggling bags, looking for direction signs, noticing other humans and finding their way around.

It’s fascinating.

Disneyland is another great people watching place. I tend to notice the parents with the children, who are really too young to be there, trying to force their tired, cranky and sensory overwhelmed toddlers to “have fun”. The adults spend all of their time corralling kids and arguing with each other, while wistfully watching the childless couples strolling, holding hands, flirting and laughing. I don’t understand why people think a toddler has any business in a place with so many things that distract and agitate the child. Most of them are scared to death at the sight of a six foot tall Mickey Mouse!

What is your favorite place to people watch? What are you looking for when you watch humans? Have you ever been busted while observing someone?



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People watching

I was at Tucson International Airport last week to pick up my husband who was flying in from North Dakota and I took the opportunity to do some people watching. I love to people watch. It was late Wednesday afternoon and the airport was pretty slow. I found his flight on the arrival/departure board and sat down to wait the 30 minutes until his arrival.

One of the first things I noticed was this gathering of around ten people, some of them had a balloon bouquet that said “Welcome Back.” It was obvious they were together. I started to imagine it might be a returning soldier, but I didn’t see any flags, so maybe not. What I did notice was that every few minutes someone else would show up, get hugged by the others and settle into the little community.  It seemed there were now about thirty people gathered in one spot. Who were these folks?

Out of the blue this voice pierces the air. “There he is!” And just like that they were chattering, bouncing and hugging, again. I watched the escalator just like everyone else, ready to see “him”. Who was the human who could bring all of these people together just to greet him and welcome him home?

I caught a brief glimpse as the humans swarmed him. He was a baby faced, fair haired young man who was clasped tightly by someone I could only imagine was his mother in a strong embrace. The fair haired young man and his mother held each other, in tears, in a hug that seemed to last five minutes. No one interrupted them and cell phones were busy. I was so moved by this display of love I had to look away to gather myself.

What did this mean? He was dressed in a black suit, with a name badge on his chest. There were family and friends with lots of tears and smiles. The comments from them were welcome back, good job, and we are so proud of you.  Ok, putting all of these clues together, the fair haired young man was just back from a Mormon mission.

This congregation moved to the baggage claim area and I continued my people watching. Fifteen more minutes until Chuck’s arrival.

Humans were milling about, waiting for passengers and biding their time. I looked up to see a beautiful young woman in a pale green dress holding the hand of a little girl and carrying a sign saying “Welcome Home Daddy”. I can figure this one out!  The little girl was obviously anxious and the beautiful mother was trying to keep her daughter calmed. They approached the escalators to wait and I looked up when “Daddy!” rang loudly through the area as only a child’s excited voice can. The little girl ran into her fathers open arms. His grin was broad as he gathered her up, wrapping both arms snugly around her. There was lots of kissing and hugging with these two.

I was charmed. I was a daddy’s girl.

Then beautiful the mother and the handsome father got their own kisses and hugs in and the whole family held tight to one another as they went to the baggage claim.

I sat again and looked at the monitor displaying the disembarking passengers just in time to notice my husband in his navy blue long sleeved Arizona Wildcats t-shirt, his go-to travel dress, heading my way. I got my own hug and kiss and as we left the airport I told him all about the people waiting just like me.