The Art of Noticing People

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to be more observant. More specifically, I have been doing my best not to ignore the people around me.

I have an active mind, so it is easy for me to be physically present somewhere but miles away mentally. It bothers me that I am not more observant at times, so I decided to attempt to work on it. Making a game out of the situation seemed like a good solution. So this is what I’m doing. When I go grocery shopping, or walk to campus, or deal with various other routines I do my best to notice people. I want to be prepared for the following scenarios:

  • A man in a dark suit wearing sunglasses (he’s in the CIA) approaches me outside the grocery store and says: “The man who was in front of you in the checkout line  is an international baboon smuggler. We have been trailing him for 17 years. Any information you can give us about him would be extremely valuable.”
  • I walk past a woman wearing Alf slippers on the sidewalk. Later that evening I see a report on the news about an Alf-slippered fugitive who is thought to be hiding somewhere on the East coast. When I call the authorities will I be able to describe her?

What I have noticed since I began doing this, is that most people will not return a glance (even when it is accompanied with a friendly hello). This means I have to break out peripheral vision to prevent seeming creepy. It seems most people would prefer to ignore and be ignored. 

So watch out international baboon smugglers and Alf-slippered fugitives, I’m looking for you.

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