Thursday, May 21, 2009

People Watching ... And Listening

Au Café
Jean-Georges Beraud
(1848-1935)

Don't you just love the looks on these folks faces? They're watching something or someone -- just out of our sightline -- and they are thoroughly amused and entertained. I often find myself doing the same thing. Sometimes, without knowing it, people can be very funny. I used to love watching people and creating imaginary conversations as they were walking through a store, or sitting in a restaurant. Oh, I know, it doesn't take much to amuse me.

Without meaning to eavesdrop, I think all of us at sometime or other have been privy to other folks conversations as they are walking along the street, or riding a bus, or sitting in a coffee shop, and they are talking on their cell phones -- especially when they use their telephone voices. Yesterday afternoon as I was waiting for the Number 9, an extremely beautiful young woman in her 20s walked past with her phone to her ear, and I could clearly hear her say, "Well, as long as you don't mind us just being friends..." I thought, I am hearing someone's life being devastated, as casually as you please, on this bright spring afternoon. I can only imagine what the fellow at the other end was feeling.

I get a kick out of the young kids who rehash the party the night before.

"And ya, like I don't remember how I got home, but my dad was waiting for me, and now I'm so busted."

Or the couple who are on their way home -- on different buses -- discussing what they're going to have for dinner.

"I'm on the Number 9, almost at Oak Street, where are you? Did you pick up the chicken? What's that? I can't hear you. Pizza? No, I said chicken. I can't hear you -- text me, text me."

I have actually heard job interviews take place over a cell phone on a bus. And then the interviewer will finish the call, hang up, call the HR department and give them the low-down on the interview. "Don't bother to check the references, I don't think the candidate would be suitable." And of course the whole transaction was done in telephone voice so everyone on the bus could listen, including the bus driver.

No one's life is private anymore, but it sure makes for some fun people-watching.

25 comments:

Lover of Life said...

There was a lady in a Target store yesterday that was yelling into her phone - I felt sorry for the person on the other end.

Patricia Torres said...

OH I just loved this post... Well done Jo!! I do people watching all the time... Even when I drive.. I love watching people through my rear view mirror.. different people react differently..

I'm also amused when people are on thier cell phones in lifts... or in the metro.. Sorry. I just have to listen..

Miss_Nobody said...

Oh, I love people watching too,I have a bad habit of checking out who is wearing what lol.Regarldess of their gender,and I often tsk quite loud whenever I see crotch tight jeans.I mean its not my business,but it annoys me...lol
And about that telephone voice?The phone companies should do something so that even if a person whispers it should sound like its super amplified on the other end.Silly thinking I guess.But sometimes,the convos are too good to ignore *mwahaha*

the walking man said...

One of the best things about going to a community college in my forties was the ability to keep my mouth shut as the "kids" talked all around me...oh the material those conversations provided.

lovelyprism said...

That is one of the reasons I really don't like to use my cell phone in public places. I don't want to hear everybody's business and I don't think they should have to listen to mine. That said, I do like to people watch. My kids and I sit in the mall and make up conversations by the expressions on people's faces. It's fun.

Rose said...

Nice one Jo. I catch myself doing that a lot as well - watching random people doing random things while I wait for a ride, walk about town, sometimes even just sit in the car. *grin* There's always so much to see and errr...hear! But I think I must have been the prey several times too! I think it's funny especially when you see ppl on handsets either laughing uproariously or having a fight, it's so hard to tear your eyes and ears away from those moments!
I enjoyed your post as always. :)

Miss_Nobody said...

hey Jo,I left you an award
http://ssg1990.blogspot.com/2009/05/awards-and-stuff.html

Hilary said...

That cell phone voice bothers me. It's far louder than regular conversational tones, and very invasive. It takes all of the mystique out of people watching for me.

Jess said...

Jo, I'm with you on this one. I have heard some of the most ridiculous, sad and funny conversations while trying to mind my own business. Some people just cannot keep their voice down. I've overheard breakups, people being fired, people cheating on their spouses, and the most annoying - teenagers. The things that they get so serious about just crack me up.

I'm like you though, I love people watching, and I too am easily amused!

mo'ikeha said...

Most of the time when I'm outside, people think that I'm a tourist and not able to understand them talking Greek - making it hard sometimes not to laugh due to their conversation.
With regard to 'watching', yes, I do know, when and who is taking there dog for a walk - mostly because my little son likes to see dogs and we are standing at the window (yes, I like to see them too, both dogs and their owners ;)

Owen said...

I guess we all have a little bit of whatever the audible equivalent of "voyeur" is, eavesdroppers I suppose, although the connotation isn't quite the same... anyway, we love to catch little glimpses of strangers lives, just as we love to peer at animals in their cages at the zoo, and secretly hope to observer some "interesting" behavior...

Thanks so much for dropping by, you are correct, it is not the place to come for endless macro shots of flowers... unless the flowers happen to be growing around an abandoned house perhaps... have a great weekend Jo !

Owen said...

PS I realized to my horror a day or two after your post on the subject that in fact the "word verification" was turned on for my comments box... it is now OFF and will stay that way... unless I start getting overwhelmed with marriage proposals from Eastern Europe...

The Bug said...

Where I work people aren't supposed to use their cell phones at their desks, so they think it's VERY appropriate to use them in the bathroom. Last month I was doing my business & listening to a woman discussing her bankruptcy with a potential lawyer: "no, I don't really have any bills to pay..." I was wondering how you could be bankrupt & not have bills to pay. I REALLY wanted to ask her, but decided to let it remain a mystery.

Deb said...

love the painting...it is amazing what you hear people talking about...and some people feel they should share their life history while your in line at the grocery store...sometimes its just too much information...I love to people watch...and try to decide what they are talking about or what their life is like...

Leslie: said...

I gotta take the bus some day! While driving yesterday, all I saw were people walking along with buds in their ears...really!

Mean Mama said...

I dislike the phone voice, and I agree with Hillary, but I think some people, especially those who did not grow up with cell phones, would not be able to lower their cell phone voice. I think we are all doomed to the noise pollution. I think I am more annoyed with cell phone behavior than most. I find it extremely rude when I am in the middle of a conversation and the person I'm speaking with just answers their phone and starts up another conversation without even acknowledging me.

I love the picture of the couple, and the new still life on your blog Jo. The couple seem entertained by their own private joke. I often think about how our media has changed from simple things like people watching and local gossip to the internet and cell phones. It is amazing.

scarlethue said...

When I was living in London, listening to conversations on the tube and buses was my very favorite thing to do. Tourists, foreigners, business people, whomever... it's amazing what people will reveal when they think it's just strangers around. Now that I'm back here in my car, I miss that, but luckily I live in a small town with a square and small restaurants where I can go people watching whenever I want. Apparently it doesn't take much to amuse me either! :)

PhilipH said...

Mobile phones - an invention of Satan. Like smoking in public places they should be banned!

Can't live with them but could easily live without the darn things!

Canarybird said...

One can't help listening to the Spanish when they get together at a table. The whole restaurant can hear every word because they talk so loudly. One never has to wonder what they are talking about.

I've never had a cell phone, a dish washer or an electric clothes dryer, so I know that one can live without them. (Although I might need a dryer if I still lived in Vancouver's rain.) :-)

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I love the ones with ear buds or head sets. They will stand in front of my counter and talk the whole time they are registering...... even when I am trying to give them directions to their sites. Then they will either forget which site I gave them or how to get to a particular one. I enjoy watching them drive around with a look of total confusion. I take my pleasure where I can.......

DUTA said...

I like the couple in the picture, but the man's smoking - kills it. His smoking, though, doesn't seem to bother the young lady.

Butler and Bagman said...

You catch little slices of life so well. What happens to me is that someone will ask me something and I will answer them and they will give me a weird look and I'll notice the ear 'bud' and realize they weren't talking to me at all.

Paula Slade said...

Oh, I love to people-watch! Having spent many an hour in airports waiting for flights, I used to think I heard it all, but these days, you are so right-on, the cell phone has provided snippets of life captured on the run. Great observations Jo!

Deedee said...

People watching is great fun. I never talk on my phone inside public places-I think it's the rudest thing. I don't want to hear anyone else's conversations, nor do I want them to hear mine.

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