People Watching on a Sunday Morning

Update Monday, September 27, 2010 at 2:05 PM.
Dalam topik musings

Okay, so it's Monday now, but at least it's only a day late! When I went out to the grocery store Monday morning, through a combination of luck and better observation skills due to my bright eyed state, I had the most interesting interactions and people watching I've had in a long time. I only spent a total of maybe 10 minutes in the store, but my time there went like this.

The water from our tap is disgusting. It tastes like chlorine and sulfur. Our house is also old. Therefore, we've decided that it's much safer and more tasty to just buy our water and be done with it. As luck would have it, our grocery store has a purified water dispenser where you can refill your jugs for just a fraction of the cost of buying regular bottled water. We have some of our most interesting conversations at this water cooler, and this Sunday was no exception.

As I stood there, waiting for the bottles to fill, I saw a man who had to be approaching 90 at the coffee machine. His trucker hat and vest were covered in pins, and he wore a large decorative necklace that looked to be some sort of gold bird. He noticed my glance and said , "Don't drink that stuff, you're gonna get drunk!"

I laughed politely and murmured something about that being a pretty cheap drink these days. After looking askance at me he said, "Are you under 40?"

I eyed him with confusion and said, "Yeeesss."

"Did I ask you that already?"


"I haven't asked you? Oh, ok. Well good then, you've had your small pox vaccination."

I was a bit confused but said, "Yes, that's a good thing."

He went on. "You know, I was responsible for eradicating small pox. I was the first scientist on the team. I spent time in Africa. I was in Nigeria... Lagos and in Ghana. (He muttered other places here I didn't catch.) My children were raised in Ghana and Nigeria. Then I went to Vietnam. I volunteered at 51. But I was so afraid that I took my wife along to protect me (chuckle). While we were there, she worked for the CIA."

At this point, he started walking by me slowly, but continued with me fitting in the correct wows, assertions and head nods.

"She left me 3 and a half years ago." By his body language and tone, I correctly interpreted "left" as "passed away."

He sighed and continued, "She was a good woman. She never complained. Even when she beat me, she never complained." He chuckled heartily at his joke. "We were married 67 years. I miss her."

I expressed my condolences and he shook himself to begin with a heartier tone, "I come here to walk the aisles! I walk every aisle! After my knee surgery and my second heart attack, I needed to walk. So I come here to walk the aisles."

I told him that was an excellent idea just as his attention was caught by a man probably in his 50's who was walking toward us. The older man called out merrily, "Hello young man! How are you?"
The younger man replied and struck up a conversation about the older man's necklace (apparently from Africa, just like the ones all his kids have) and engaged him even more. As I was turning to leave, I heard the older man say, "So how old are you?"

I don't know how much of his stories were true or exaggeration. I imagine some of it was exaggerated since one of the things I heard him tell the second man was that he was once the strongest man in Hawaii and benched pressed 1000 pounds. But that didn't matter. It was a wonderful conversation. He was a fascinating person, and it felt good to talk with a lonely, friendly old man about his life. I found myself wishing I had engaged him even more and asked more questions as I walked away, but I was in a hurry to get back to my baby. I thought to myself, "I want to know his whole story. I would love to write down his whole story." The writer in me was turned on in a way it hasn't been for months. I wish I had at least gotten his name...


The people watching aspect of this story followed shortly after. As I was leaving, I saw a woman rush up to the cashier to buy a last minute thing. Her upper arms were so thin they were smaller than her elbows. Her thighs were so skinny they were smaller than her knees. She appeared fragile, shaky, delicate. She was pretty in a very sharp way. Her cheek bones were prominent, especially with her tight pony tail. I remember wondering about her appearance.

On her dash to the door, I saw her meet up with a man who appeared to be her significant other. She skidded to a stop as she noticed the large, grocer scale standing just inside the doorway and started to step up on it. The look in the man's eyes immediately turned desperate, and he tried to turn. She grabbed his arm and said, "Come on! I want to go home!" I thought it was an odd thing to say, but then wondered if she meant she couldn't go home until she weighed herself?

She got her way and stepped on the scale, and the man looked utterly defeated. I left before I heard anymore, but saw them making their way down the sidewalk as I pulled out. She was walking briskly, and he was trying to grab her grocery bag to carry it for her. She wouldn't let him take it entirely, so he held half of it, and they carried it together.

Again, I wondered about their story. Is she battling an eating disorder? Is he feeling like it will never end? His actions toward her, though desperate, seemed tender. Is she getting better or worse? Is it something else entirely? Will they get through it? It was sad but fascinating and a beautiful piece of human story in a way. Yup, the writer in me was out full force that day.

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People Watching on a Sunday Morning
Artikel ini diposting dari blog , Monday, September 27, 2010, at 2:05 PM dalam topik musings dan permalink 47. Jangan lupa baca artikel terkait dan tinggalkan komentar di bawah ini.

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