I have to admit that this is one of my favourite past-times. I love watching other people, especially people I don’t know. There’s this great café near where I live that has loads of really antique special mirrors on the walls, all over the place. I always try and sit on table 13, mostly because it’s the best table to view the rest of the café, but I also quite like the number.
This is often where I write but I also do a lot of people watching. I watch the two mums with their new babies and how they do a lot of multitasking, talking almost constantly while they feed, burp and rock their precious bundles to sleep.
I watch the students having a debate on some philosophical issue. Occasionally it seems to get heated and the two guys at one end of the table start using their hands to gesticulate. One of them shakes his head a lot when he’s frustrated, the other interrupts a lot (which is probably the source of frustration) and the poor girl with them can barely get a word in.
People come and go and I soon find myself wondering about them. There’s this one middle-aged guy, with a beard, who’s sat and read a paper for ten minutes then got up and walked out, leaving an almost full drink, and I find myself wondering why he might have done that. He didn’t check his phone so there was no message from a shopping wife to summon him to her side.
When another similarly aged and attired man sits at the same seat and picks up the abandoned paper I can’t help myself from wondering if something was passed on. Did the first guy leave a message tucked in the folds of news-stories, and time the exchange to make it perfectly anonymous?
This is the place where quirks that add to the depth of a character are discovered. Where innocent people become the backdrop for convoluted plots. And where I get to learn about total strangers.