Pajama Bottoms at the Buffet – The Art of People Watching

These are the people I observed today in my quest for being alone and just being in the moment:

  1. I saw a young guy with a fuzzy beard go through the buffet in his pajama bottoms; twice. I’m pretty sure he still had his slippers on too. I wondered if he was just heading up to do tree planting or some other environmental job. He had his black toque on, ready to go into the bush!
  2. I noticed a family excited about the buffet. The little girl squealing in delight about the strawberries while her Daddy got her some. Mom went up there three times, but I noticed that it wasn’t until the third trip that she was getting food for herself
  3. There was my beautiful Ukraine waitress that deserves a post all her own…
  4. The woman that was full of entitlement. I listened as she claimed all that was her right. I wondered if she ever had any fun.
  5. I met the friendly house-keeping staff that kept calling me “Maam” and put my stuff daintily on a face cloth and gave me a complimentary bottled water just because I said hello and how are you and stopped and listened to her answer.
  6. Two young people, obviously on their lunch break, discussed the woes of work and of a manager that wanted them to make her look good and that she needed to be honest with them about that. They claimed they would think more of her if she just came out and said that instead of the bull that she had told them. It was interesting to hear their point about how that would motivate them more – her honesty – interesting how so many managers miss that one…
  7. I spoke to the hotel “handy man” in the elevator as I was heading down to workout. I learned that his knees can’t take running, but he walks as much as he can. He laughed about his belly and told me his son had his bike and he hopes to get a new one. Then, he pointed me in the direction of the gym and wished me well. I saw him 3 more times throughout the evening. He really does walk a lot.
  8. A fellow people-watcher; an elderly restaurant hostess sat me at the table so that “You can watch people like I do” and smiled knowingly when I told her her I was enjoying my alone time. I wondered if she was alone. If she had a smiling retired husband waiting for her at home or if she was working because she lost him…I thought of my own sweetheart…
  9. The boisterous table of ladies, likely conference delegates that were enjoying their “girl time”; talking and laughing and barely touching their food, everyone talking at once. We sure have fun when we do that.
I caught myself smiling several times throughout the day. I’m sure the casual observer of me was wondering what I was up to. My iPhone was beside me, but I didn’t bury my nose in it (like so many others – even an iPad at the breakfast table!) It was much more fun unplugging and just watching.
When was the last time you paid attention to the people walking by or standing beside you. Have you looked in the eyes of your server and genuinely smiled? You never know where it will take you…

The People That You Meet

I heard the news today of a friend who had lost her battle with cancer. I bowed my head and thought of the last time I spoke with Connie Hubley. How she told me that they had found more of the blackness in her chest. How her voice shook, but her smile never faded. How I told her of the Ride to Conquer Cancer and how she thanked me and donated money to battle the disease on another front. I thought of her smile and that infectious little giggle she would have as she told a story. How she worked hard and had a hello for anyone she met.

I sit here tonight thinking of the times I inquired about her struggle, yet didn’t find the time to stop by and see her. And I sit here and cry many tears of sorrow of a lady lost and a few of my shame that I didn’t get to know her even more.

I think of the people that you meet….

  • She walks toward me. Two strangers about to meet on a snowy sidewalk. Two strangers; she about 16 – just starting her life. White headphones dangled from both our ears. What music does she listen to? Does she listen to books? Where is she going? Does she have a boyfriend? What does she want to be when she grows up? We smile and and pass by each other, questions unanswered.
  • His tousled hair seems dirty. His clothes; not much better. His English falters as he runs to catch up with his new friends. He is new to this snow; so excited to feel its chill. Where did he come from? What struggles brought him to this land? Is it hard to live so far away from the life you were born to? What hopes are in his heart?
  • She’s obviously been crying, but she tries to hide it. She hangs her head, not making eye contact as I pass her in the hall. What brings those tears? Is she alone in this world? Is she scared? Is she lost? Who will help her? Who will hear her?
  • He struggles to open the door as he goes into the bank. His once strong hands and arms fail him as his mind is angered by his frailty. I help him open the door and he mumbles a thanks. I wonder what oceans has he crossed? How many hours have those hands toiled? What have those grey eyes seen? How many friends has he lost over the years? Do his grandchildren hear his stories?

So many people, each day, in and out of my life. All those questions I do not ask. Stories I do not hear.

I am resolved to listen more, talk less.

I ache to hear the tales of adventure, the yearnings of the heart, the loves lost and found, the wrenching sadness and fears. I don’t want to miss any of it. It consumes me. I long for those voices, those words, those songs. So much I don’t want to miss.

  • She comes to my office and cleans the “coffee table” because we IT people sure are messy! She decides that it’s time that carpet got vacuumed. She tells a story as she collects those garbage bags. I laugh and she smiles and giggles with me. She shows me the ring he got her; she is so pleased. She tells me how she just can’t seem to shake this cough. What would it have been like to sit and have coffee with you, away from this place of work? What was it like to meet your soul mate? How did you cope when the doctors told you the news? How did you tell your children? How can I help ease your pain?

Rest in peace my friend. I will hear your laughter again and sit for awhile and listen to your heart’s songs.