People Watching

July 16th, 2010. California

After having my hair cut by a student at the Aveda Institute downtown, I lingered around Union Square hoping that I could convince Nik to join me for afternoon coffee. When he called to say he was ready to go home, but couldn’t quite yet, I decided to find a corner coffee shop and people watch while I waited. I sipped my Pike’s Place Roast very slowly because I knew I would be there a while. Then, after an hour, I took out my notebook and started to write down what was going on around me. These are those notes…

At Starbucks at the corner of Grant & Bush.

A family of 6 resting and waiting for the next thing. The two youngest boys are twins and both have small cameras dangling around their necks. And they just seem happy!

A buff guy in yellow shorts with a “Monster Tunes” t-shirt. Speaking Spanish.

Guy in all ochre (jacket & pants) walks across the street on the phone in a hurry.

Girl in flip flops, leggings, skirt and blue scarf holding a “PINK” shopping bag chatting with friends. Speaking French.

Group of 5 pausing to take photos of China Town Gate. Speaking Chinese.

“I don’t want to talk about work outside of work” says the red head.

Two girls with dark long hair, black long sleeve shirts, purses crossing their bodies and boot leg jeans.

Guy with horn rimmed glasses.

“That’s a private bus.” ” That would be comfortable.” says the middle aged group walking by in shorts and tennis shoes as a big “Silverado” bus passes by.

Mom takes photo of teenage son with her Nikon DSLR, then mom turns and sees me. She smiles.

Blond headed man with receding hairline and khaki pants pauses in front of the trash cans in his all white Nike tennis shoes.

Guy with Beatles hair cut, denim jacket and royal blue sweater crosses the street with a stern face.

10-12 yr old boy in blue abercrombie & fitch sweatshirt turns and strikes a pose for his dad with the little point-and-shoot.

“There’s a Starbucks on that corner too…Were you siting here the whole time?”

1/2 bald man in lavender oxford and brown plaid sports coat looks east as he sends a text message.

College sorority girl poses with her younger braced-teeth brother as mom takes photo while standing next to her greased-back-hair dad.

20-something couple walks by with 3 dogs.

Working girl with blond highlights, slouchy big grey bag, steel blue wedges, loose grey jacket and black skinny jeans walks by.

Sister in All-Stars. Brother in Sambas. Mom & Dad in Asics running shoes.

Two Asian girls with rolling suit cases.

Cute Indian couple. Girl in grey + blue. Boy in plaid shorts, sweatshirt and holding Banana Republic bag.

“This isn’t what her mom does”

Asian guy in all black looks at a map then begins folding it while his lady friend in a red-pink trench coat and guy-friend in all black laugh.

“BABY PHAT” says the purse the girl in all black carries.

Horn rimmed glasses walks by again.

Muscle man in tight white t-shirt, shorts and backpack leans into the corner as he turns left.

“Everyone else drank your beer this week. I didn’t want to be the a**hole”

“No. I don’t want to go.”

“You can follow us.”

“See, my mom was stupid…I want Starbucks”

Couple with backpacks, fleeces, hiking pants and walking shoes.

Petite Asian girl with black leather biker jacket, lavender sweater, jeans, flats and her hair twisted in a knot turns the corner while texting a friend.

Blond 7 year old in a pink sweatshirt and pig tails runs by in her flip flops.


“There there there, it’s very good” says the 6 year old boy with a head full of curls to his dad.

Black hood. Pink lips. Blushed cheeks.

“I got a picture of”

And then it was time to meet Nik and take the bus home. I absolutely love sitting and observing life. It makes me wonder if I would have been a good contemporary anthropologist. So many people with insanely different stories, and I got to spend my time imagining what those stories might be.

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