people watching

People watching is something I enjoy, a lot and I think most of us do. I was thinking about this today from a couple of different angles. First, there is the fun one - where you're in a crowd of people you don't know - like when I was at the State Fair the day that K.I.S.S. was performing and there people walking around in their K.I.S.S. t-shirts and their faces painted -- and even better, the people who were in full-out super fan K.I.S.S. costumes.

At the state fair, and many other large gatherings, you're bound to see lots of things - mullets, people with dogs in clothes, stylish people, not-so-stylish people, people holding hands, people fighting, people laughing, drunk people, tall people, short people, purple, blue, or rainbow hair ... and the list could go on forever.

I love going to these types of things with my friend Emily, because we can say what we're thinking without saying a word. We've known each other long enough and have been to enough stuff together that when we want to comment on something, we do it with our eyes. Because I saw it, and I know she saw it, and I know we're thinking the same thing. And vice versa. Sometimes our eyes say nice things (Oh that's cute or that guy is hot) and sometimes our eyes say things that are kind of judging (let's be honest).Yesterday at the St. Paul Craft-stravaganza was no exception.

But it's not always judging. This morning, for example, I was in church I saw an older woman who looked like she was crying. I wondered:
  • Did something happen recently that triggered something? 
  • Does she really love the song they're singing? (I did - it was one of my favorites.) 
  • Maybe her grandchild was one of those three kids who just got confirmed up front? 
I saw the young man sitting next to her (presumably her grandson?) put his arm around her, and they looked at each other, and she smiled and wiped her eyes. I never found out the answers to any of my questions, but it was really endearing, nonetheless.

I once played a game with someone where we picked people out of a crowded bar and tried to figure out: what do they do? who is that with them? what's their personality? have they been married? do they have kids? It's all based on assumption - and not necessarily being petty or judgmental, but it was more about curiosity. Curiosity about something we wouldn't find the answers to - but fun in the process.

So, the other aspect of this I was thinking about was the more personal, long-term kind. Watching people we know over the years - what do we see, learn from, and know about them? A common example here would be parents. We watch them and -- whether we like it or not -- will likely eventually turn into them, at least to some extent. We learn work ethic, how to treat people (and how not to), about honesty (and dishonesty), political beliefs (or disbelief), faith (or not), and, again, the list goes on... Fortunately, I've been pretty darn lucky with pretty darn good parents to watch. But that's not the reason I bring this up - at least not for today.

Left: Lavaine 
Right: Me & my godparents (I'm the cute baby)
Thanks Amanda for letting me use these pictures!

We recently lost a wonderful member of our family - a father, grandfather, brother, son, cousin, and godfather (to me and, I believe, 11 lucky others). Although he was my mother's cousin, he and his wife are like another uncle and aunt to me - and their kids are my cousins. We spent a lot of time together when I was young, so I had a chance to watch - and here's what I saw (from both him and his wife): kindness, laughter, a contagious smile, love, affection, and faith. To those of you who know him, this comes as no surprise because I know you saw the same things - and maybe more than I'm not articulating well.

But, last week, I had a chance to hear what someone who I had never met saw and learned from Lavaine. It was a radio clip from a member of the family that owned his workplace; he sent condolences on behalf of the company and shared some memories of having him as a colleague and a mentor. This is a world I knew very little about, but it was so interesting to hear how he affected others outside of the family and the ridge. 

In the audio clip, he said things like: 
"I worked with him ever since I was like 10 years old... [list all of the various positions he held]. I had the fortunate to work under his supervision when I was in high school and college."

"He taught me the importance of customer service... communication, attention to detail, hard work, completion of a project (even if I didn't want to do it!)."

"He would always say we always make errors - everyone makes them - what you do is you admit it, you resolve it, you learn from it and you move on."

"I wouldn't be who I am today. He has done so much for me, for my family, for our business... etc."
First of all, how cool is it that they thought enough of him to do this radio spot about him? It's not something I've probably ever heard on the radio. Second, I find it really interesting to hear this side of things - something I was not at all familiar with - his relationship with and value to his colleagues. It definitely made me smile. :)

What about you? Any good people watching stories?


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Brenda. I really enjoy your insights into this human life we share. And I'm so glad you are Emily's friend!

  2. An endearing post. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Happy to share, Erin. And I'm so glad to be Emily's friend, too! :)

    BEK - Thank you. :) Hope all is well for you.

  4. Good Blog Brenda. I like to people watch too.


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