People Watching

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” ~Ryunosuke Satoro

I have this passion and I have had it since I was a little girl: People Watching. I absolutely love my fellow man. Humans, of every sort, are absolutely fascinating. This is one of the reasons that I adore meeting new people and why I have been able to work in the hospitality industry for so many years without tiring of it. I love people. I love getting to know people. I love people watching.

In fact, I have a list of the best places to watch my fellow humans in action. Without a shadow of a doubt the number one location on that list would be any one of the thousands of airports that we have on this planet.

I love airports and, trust me; I have been in my fair share. From LAX (Los Angeles, California) to JFK (New York City-Kennedy, New York) to LHR (London-Heathrow, England) to MXP (Milan, Italy) to NBO (Nairobi, Kenya) … I have traveled far and wide and spent an astounding amount of my precious time in the many airports of our world. (No wonder I made a decent travel agent.) What better activity to pursue than to people watch?

Watching people was a game. I would stare at those around me and make-up stories about who they were and where they were going. The stories always hinged on what airport I was in at the time: a fiancée returning to her love, a family moving from one country to the next, friends going to lose themselves in the wilderness for a few weeks, or even a couple on their honeymoon heading to a villa in Tuscany. Who knows? At some point – I may have even made up a story about you.

My mother has always said I would probably introduce myself to a brick wall if I thought it would respond. With that knowledge it should come as no surprise that I, even as a young child, would introduce myself to those travelers near me that I found fascinating. I forged brief friendships with complete strangers and added knowledge to the database in my mind on what people like and how they want to be treated. It is amazing what someone will confess to you in an airport when they assume you will never be seen by them again. Ditto for airplanes. Although - people tend to be a bit crankier once on an actual flight and less open to conversation. I do remember faces and, in a few instances, names of those with whom I shared a fleeting airport friendship. Occasionally, when my mind wanders into the past, I wonder what has become of these individuals and where they are today.

“There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.” ~James Nathan Miller

Airports have also demonstrated to me that this earth is, indeed, “a small world after all.” Not once from high school years to present day have I been in airport where I did *not* meet someone that I know or someone that knows someone I know. I once met up with my former high school principal and his wife in London’s Heathrow airport. In (MEM) Memphis, Tennessee I bumped into another MK (missionary kid) from East Africa who I hadn’t seen in over five years. I have encountered a number of individuals at DFW (Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas) including a church deacon who had met my father at a conference a few years before. I spent over an hour helping him layout his itinerary for his next big family vacation (giving him the list of “can not miss” and “must do” items) … which just happened to be a Kenyan safari. Small world? Indeed!

Yet, times change. I no longer have to visit an airport to remind myself of how our world is incredibly small. This is a good thing as my current situation does not afford me the luxury of traveling. I do not enjoy the fact that I can not travel as I used to, in fact my wanderlust is in full gear, but travel is not a possibility for me at this time. Traveling physically or not, the internet has effectively made our world even smaller than it was to begin with. Still – I people watch. Yes, it can be done online. I watch others lives unfold online in the words they write and share publicly. I know there are those that also watch me and read what I write. Unfortunately, there are only a small number of my readers that I have had the privilege of meeting … a handful or two. The majority of my visitors are from the United States. A lovely group of new friends originates in the United Kingdom. Still, most of you have come and gone anonymously and you hail from very different areas of the world than my own. Stop. Pull up a chair and stay a while. Leave a comment. Otherwise, I am forced to resort to my old airport game and make up stories about who you are, where you come from and where you are going. I would rather have the opportunity to introduce myself.

“Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?” ~Walt Whitman


  1. I was once told, figure out what you love to do, then how to get paid to do it. I'm nosy, I'm a nurse.

    Also, if you want someone to talk to you, ask them all about their job, you'll get an earful. Also, very very true.

  2. I have a similar drive. Except, for me, it's about learning the true stories. Only watching leaves something lacking for me.

    Thanks for the link!

  3. You make me smile with pleasure, your voice fills me with hope, No matter the wherefroms or whenevers, it's all about your love for folks.

    You are an inspiration Beth.

  4. I doubt that is a writer out there who isn't a people watcher of some kind. After all, there's nothing more true than fiction.

    Airports have a slightly different impact on me, in as I worked for years in one of the London airports. There's nothing more haunting than an empty arrivals hall in the early hours.

  5. z - I am terribly nosy, but I could never handle being a nurse. My hat is off to you for working in that profession.

    jason - Why do you think I introduce myself to strangers? True stories!

    jim - You are always so encouraging. I thank you dearly.

    dba - Which airport? An empty arrivals hall must feel like a ghost town. I've been in Heathrow in the middle of the night between flights and it was rather barren.

  6. I really enjoy the way you write so here's me popping in and saying hi

  7. Yes... it's me lurking in your blog again; people watching you call it, huh!

  8. kk - Loiter all you want. You know I don't mind. :o)

  9. hi, beth! my name is tina and i'm from hong kong. read this entry and i totally love it! =)

  10. Welcome, Tina! I'm glad you liked it!

  11. Oh dear... I love People watching too... And the way u put it in words, it's such a WOW.. So in writing to say Hello...


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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