I’m an observer.

I learned from an early age that the art of observation could be a lifesaver.

When I was young, my mother would drive my grandmother and me along with my two siblings downtown where we’d park in front of the department store and people watch.

Mother and her mother would discuss the walkers—what they wore and who they were. Sometimes, friends they knew would stop beside the car and visit for a while.

My younger sister always wanted to know when we could go home. My little brother would cry to get out of the car. Grandmother would bribe them with the promise of an ice cream cone on the way home.

Me, I’d sit in the backseat and imagine why the people were downtown, what they were doing, and where they were going. I gave them silly names and made up stories about their lives. It kept the younger kids entertained and me from dying of boredom.

Mother always said I was a good storyteller—especially if I was in trouble.

I’m still a people watcher. I’m not being nosy or specifically eavesdropping. It’s human nature to observe. We all do it at one time or another.

The difference between my adult people watching and what I did as a child is that I store images and make notes of my reactions to what I see happening. I call it book research and character study.

I rely upon my writer’s eye to bring the images and feelings to mind at the appropriate time.

I may never use any of my observations, but people watching does exercise my creativity and passes what could be boring wait time more quickly.

Even if you’re not a writer, people watching can be fun entertainment. Plus, you’ll find you have interesting conversation topics.