Monday Notes: Starbucks Observations

coffee-1281842_1280There’s nothing better than ordering a tall Youthberry, with a shot of classic. Hot tea is one of the few drinks the barista will make immediately. I always get it before I leave the counter.

If I’m inside, I find a seat near the back of the café where there’s an outlet. If I’m outside, then I’m right by the door. Either way, I follow the same ritual: 1) take the top off my tea so that it can cool to a consumable temperature; 2) unpack my MacBook, log onto the WiFi, and answer the question of the day; and depending on how loud the patrons are 3) plug in my ear buds and select Film Scores on Pandora. Something about listening to The Lord of the Rings soundtrack helps me focus.

But on this day, I decided to ditch the headphones. I’d observe my surroundings instead.

Directly in front of me, a Spanish-speaking couple met with a bilingual man. The cellphone conversation he’d had five minutes before they arrived was in English and full of laughter. As soon as the couple sat down, his tone changed. Eleven years of the romance language didn’t help me interpret their discussion, but the seriousness in the air led me to believe it was an important topic. Was he a professional translator? Had someone recommended him? Were they in trouble?

I’d never know.

On the left side of me a couple met with a realtor. The middle-aged white man and his Asian-looking wife had moved from Seattle to Jacksonville. Years ago, they’d lived overseas. I wondered if they were former military. Where “overseas” had they lived? Why did they choose Jacksonville over Seattle?

“So are y’all ready?” the bright-eyed realtor asked.

“Yep,” the husband replied, “It’s time for a house.”

I’ve come to accept my nosey-ness as a positive trait that allows me to observe and then write detailed descriptions of people. But it was time to be productive.

Just when I’d settled in to read and respond to blogs, I saw them.

“You’re not old enough to be line leader,” he said.

She snatched her tiny, pale, white hand away and attempted to sprint to the edge of the sidewalk. Her legs failed her. He reached for her small arm with his free hand, while the other held firmly to his more well-behaved, five year-old daughter’s right hand.

First he praised the two year old, “I admire your tenacity,” and then, he reprimanded her, “but no.”

The two little girls remained on either side of their dad, hand-in-hand, dawdling their way down the sidewalk and out of my view.

img_3053I admire your tenacity reverberated and stuck with me.

I was sure they were middle class simply because he used the word “tenacity.” Did they live in the new development that peeked through the space between Nordstrom’s and Bento? Did the girls have traditional names, like Emma and Gracie? Or had they gone more trendy, Bailey and Zoe?

It was probably a mix. Zoe was the runner and Emma was the oldest. Zoe wanted her bedroom to be painted deep purple, but they’d convinced her that fuchsia was just as amazing. Emma never posed a problem, going along with whatever her parents wished. Her room was light pink, with a matching flowered duvet and pillow covers.

Their mom was at home taking a well-deserved break from her orchestrated life.

“Why don’t you take Emma and Zoe to the mall?” she suggested.

He was happy to help out. But, next time he’d ask his wife to come along. She’d have to seek rest elsewhere.

Real people inspire me to write. I’ve looked over at the person next to me on the highway and made up an entire short story with characters, backstory, and plot. Am I the only one who does this? Do you look at people and wonder what’s going on with their lives? Where does your writing inspiration come from?

84 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Starbucks Observations

  1. I do this constantly! I keep little notes of eclectic and unusual people. I blog about them. I study them. It’s my favorite! Great post. (I’m also going to start using the word “tenacity” when lecturing my kid. She’s got a lot of it to admire.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I get it! It’s the writer, the storyteller in you that can’t help but look at people and wonder “what is their story?” Some of my writing inspiration comes from people-watching, daydreaming, reading, and having “aha!” moments😊.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. People watching is the best inspiration ever! So happy you blogged about it. I do the same thing…build characters from the people I observe in everyday situations. It’s so much fun to use your imagination that way. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Loved this! I don’t really make up stories about people but I am nosy as hell and I do wonder what is going in their worlds.
    Ah..but then I have to come back to the realization that I will never know.
    But with that said, my crazy brother, does this all the time.
    Girl he will KILL you with his imaginings!
    We be rolling at the stuff he comes up with.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Girl one time we saw an older white man with some confederate flag suspenders on and he went to town!!!
        You should have heard that joker mimicking that strong Southern drawl!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Girl, he had to have ordered them jokers special! LOL!!!
        Tiny little confederate flags all over the suspenders! ROTFLMAO!
        We were at one of those trough kinda restaurants like Golden Corral or some such mess. My Daddy loves them joints! LOL!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Look at you … a natural ethnographer! I like your observations! I think we have that same trait. It’s fun! I laughed out loud when you said you make up stories for people on the highway. I do this, too! A bizarre line of thought for me in the car is figuring out which women are trapped in horrible relationships. Like … whenever I am at a red light and I look over and see a man and a woman in the car, and the woman is in the passenger’s seat looking miserable in my direction, I think to myself “damn, he probably doesn’t listen to her – and the mailman is looking mighty good to her right about now” lol. I’m like a Drive-by Dr. Phil … at one red light, I have assessed your entire relationship and I add an element to the story if I keep riding alongside that couple. lol

    What inspires me to write? People saying/doing stupid stuff, lol. Anger motivates me to write, because I prefer writing my thoughts to screaming them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha! I’m glad you recognized my skills Darryl! I laughed all the way thought this reply. I do the exact same thing. Saw an older lady on the interstate in a red convertible with all of her belongings packed to the brim. Figured her husband just died and she got the insurance money and could finally live the life she wanted lol

      Yep. I’m inspired by the same. Sometimes it’s easier to blog about it than to go off on somebody 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. First, what a fantastic dad!
    One of my favorite things to do: sit on a terrace, in the sun, order a drink and then just watch people. I even developed the ability to talk with my company, but also know exactly if people at other tables are in a fight, just enjoying the sun too, are on ‘a day out shopping’, taking a break from work…
    Hmm, maybe I should write a story too…
    Great post again, Katherin! As you noticed; inspiring for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right??? I had another idea about the dad maybe being perfect in public, but then ignoring the girls at home lol I had at least three different scenarios about these three.

      Glad to see I’m not the only one observing people. You should! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post. I feel like I know these people or at least that I’ve seen them before.

    I do this ALL this time! I people watch and wonder why she chose that outfit. Who’s on the other line getting the business? Why his face is terribly dark and sad. Why a couple stays on their devices the entire duration of their outing instead of engaging with one another. My friend Jon just wrote a story about two women he overheard ending their friendship because one friend voted for and supports Trump.

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    1. Thanks Kelley! You haaave! I guarantee that you have lol

      Those all sound like some great stories, especially the one about why the couple is on their devices the entire time! I’ve seen that a million times and I wonder if that’s their home life too. Although, somebody told me about a date she went on where the guy didn’t know how to communicate, so he texted her…right at the table…the entire date!

      Anywho, I need to read Jon’s story. Is it online?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow! At the table??! Did he have a speech impediment? I’m guessing no, just a major communication impediment. I. I can’t.

        He said he’s “putting meat on it”. I’ll definitely forward it to you if/when he allows. It’s funny.. in a sad way.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I love it! I am such a people-watcher! I try my hardest not to stare, but I do catch myself sometimes and have to gracefully smile before looking away. Kids and their parents are the funniest. (See my post entitled What Are You Going To Get Me For Christmas?) 😄 I get my inspiration from all around me, a person/people, places or things! 😉

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  9. LOL. No, you’re not alone. I people-watch and make up backstories and current scenarios for strangers I commute with. The double tall bus is my Starbucks and I have seen/heard everything. Especially, I love only hearing part of a sentence from a silver-haired professionally dressed woman like, “and the second time nobody bailed him out”

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      1. That sounds interesting, though.

        Never “met” anyone who also likes the LOTR soundtrack. When I taught, I used to play it at the beginning of class to help the kids get settled in.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. lol I HATE the actual movies, but those soundtracks…perfect! What did you used to teach? There’s an entire theory about music and learning, but I’m sure you know that.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Whew god bless ya! My youngest is almost three, so I’ve been thinking about whether I want to go back to teaching or find something different. Having another baby so I don’t have to make a decision is off the table this time 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ha! I say the same about people who teach/taught middle school and lower.

        Going back to the classroom at this time would be quite interesting with everything in high gearshift.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You will probably not be surprised to learn that my daughter has looked up words I have said to her during the middle of some of our more heated discussions. When she was little, I told her she was being obnoxious, then had to explain what it meant.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this post Kathy. One of my favourite things is observing others and like you, creating the backstory and details of lives I don’t know. Living in a small town now, it isn’t that hard to piece together the true stories – more fun in an anonymous city.

    My lunchtimes during the working week are great for these observations as I now recognise some other regulars who seek solitude on their lunch break…I wonder if they’ve created a story of my life too? 😊

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  11. Love it. The deep purple bedroom reminded me of a male nurse friend of mine. When he and his wife bought their house, they told each of their 3 daughters they could choose how they wanted their bedroom painted. The oldest, a fashionista at 15, chose BLACK. The youngest, totally into Disney Princesses, chose LAVENDER. The middle child, a quiet artsy type, presented them with four color samples… she wanted each of the walls painted a different color–ELECTRIC GREEN, ORANGE, AQUA, and NAVY. I admired her pluck, her non-traditional way of thinking. She did get all four colors, by the way. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joan, that is very cool! I can see each one of those children with their different colored rooms. Glad to know I wasn’t too far off! I knew someone must be choosing cool colors with their daughters.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. People inspire me to, reading this, I’m glad to know of another person who looks a strangers creating stories of what their life would look like. Although in my case, the stories stay right where they are in my head, and don’t often see the light of a page.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. this is a great post! Maybe next time I’m in a coffee shop, I will do the same thing and just observe people for a while. My mind often wonders when it’s intrigued by someone around me.

    Liked by 3 people

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