Have you ever just watched people? The general public, the milling throngs. It’s rather fascinating, the variety of people populating this planet. Heck, even just this town.
I was walking to my bus stop after work yesterday and I was struck by the incredible diversity surrounding me. I’m not necessarily talking ethnic diversity here; more like personal expression.
For example: there was a man in his 40’s sporting a carrot-orange 1.5″ high mohawk. Oh yes. He was otherwise rather ordinary – conservative clothing, no visible piercings or tattoos. And then there was the couple, also in their 40’s (or perhaps 50’s) dressed rather stylishly and struggling to hold onto their matching, black umbrellas. Now, this is a coastal city. I hate to tell you, but it gets windy on the coasts. Really windy. It wasn’t raining particularly hard – just a drizzle, really – but the wind was blowing and gusting with gumption. There were hundreds of people on the streets and most had realized that umbrellas would be futile – but not this couple. I was fascinated, watching them try to keep the umbrellas from turning inside out, being ripped from their hands, or whipped into innocent bystanders. Needless to say, they were quite inefficient at keeping the precipitation off. Horizontal raindrops are rather hard to deflect, even with an umbrella.
There was, of course, a good assortment of idlers and loiterers – those folks that don’t have anywhere urgent to go, so they meander across the sidewalks impeding those of us that do have somewhere to go and buses to catch. These idlers ranged in age, cleanliness, and attire. Some had ridiculously baggy pants (you know, with the crotches hanging to their knees like a loaded diaper on a toddler) while others had the hardscrabble appearance of a really rough life. A few were obviously inebriated or high, or both.
There were tourists, gaping at the farmer’s market and trying to take pictures of the vendors, who really just wanted to sell their produce and go home. There were the street performers, strumming old guitars and singing bad renditions of folk tunes while standing hopefully behind a box or guitar case containing a few dollar bills and coins. And let us not forget the piano man with his crowning glory of vibrant white hair. He is a regular along the market street, banging out upbeat tunes (of his own creation, I believe) and selling his CD’s for a mere $10. I make sure to give him a nod, if for no other reason than I have to admire his dedication, what with having to maneuver a piano up and down the steep hills and over cobblestones. But his music is rather nice, gets the toes a-tapping.
We have the very first Starbucks store here, and there always seems to be some tourist or visitor who has to take a picture of it. Really, it’s not that exciting – just a simple storefront amongst dozens of others. Just buy the T-shirt, already.
There were the dog-walkers, blessedly oblivious to the inconvenience their dogs create as they stretch their leashes across the sidewalk, effectively blocking it. The mothers with their babies and toddlers in jogging strollers, trying to juggle lattes and cell phones while they maneuvered down the sidewalk. The businessmen standing on the corner looking for a good place to grab a bite to eat, perhaps a drink, and discuss the latest merger opportunities. The smokers standing sullenly on the corner.
And then there were people like me, the regular working stiffs that weave their way through the crowds and past the pan-handlers, thinking about what is in the pantry at home and what kind of dinner can be made from it, hoping the kids don’t have too much homework, wondering if there’s time to stop at the drug store, wishing the drizzle would stop, and wondering if we should buy some produce from the market stands as we go by or at the very least offer to take a picture for the tourists so they can all be in their commemorative snapshot.
Nah. Just get out of my way so I don’t miss my bus.