Are you more of a people watcher or a people listener? I, myself, am the latter — an eavesdropper of sorts. Some people are perfectly content to sit on a park bench and watch peoples’ lives unfold briefly before them, like a silent movie. I, however, would much rather turn my back to the scene if it meant that I could listen in to a nearby conversation.
My preference for listening over watching also extends to books and movies. Sometimes I find myself just skimming the paragraphs of a novel that describes action (such as a chase or detailing some complex motion). I am much more interested in character development through internal musings and dialogues. Also, in movies I find myself uniterested in fight scenes as well as in sex scenes for that matter. I can think of two friends who would identify more as a people watchers and their movie tastes are strongly rooted in action (one more in action/ thriller and the other action/ sci-fi/ fantasy).
Today, I visited my favorite cafe (more about that here), for dinner before an evening engagement. It was mid-afternoon and the cafe was quite near maximum capacity. I found myself wending my way through narrow pathways and overextended limbs until I found a little seat at a bar in the back corner… near the restrooms… right by where they stack the high chairs for babies. Regardless of the sub-prime location, I was very happy to have found a spot at all. Not more than 10 mins had gone by when the woman sitting next to me was replaced by two college-aged guys. I could no longer concentrate on what I was reading because the guy next to me was practically yelling to be heard by his companion in the already-very-loud cafe. As a result of his shouting, I decided to abandon my reading materials and invited myself to listen in on their conversation.
After hearing a few lines of the conversation, I tried to define the relationship between these two young lads. They were almost definitely Harvard students, they dressed liked students, talked about school and, well, I was sitting right across from Harvard’s campus. Although these two were familiar, they did not seem to be close friends. One thing that stood out was that the dialogue was less like a conversation and more like a free-flowing Q&A. In a way, it was like one student was interviewing the other. The two discussed one student’s background, goals, and upbringing. One funny line from their conversation went something like follows:
“When I was growing up, I always wanted to work hard, be a CEO, and make ‘big money.’ But now my goals have changed. I don’t want to stress myself out all the time about work. I want to have weekends off, a small family, and a nice house in a nice area. Now, it’s not about being number one, but just being comfortable, a white-picket-fence sort of lifestyle.”
The statement was a little laughable, because if you want a white picket fence in the Boston area, you better be willing to pay well over $1 million for it.
Whether you prefer to watch or listen, Dear Reader, sometimes, it just feels good to sit back and enjoy the show.