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Watching Life Roll By – People watching at its best!

As a traveler I often have time to just sit and watch the world roll by, and it’s fascinating what I see. This post is a chance for me to share it with you. I did not really think of taking photos while these events were occurring, I hope the power of the words can let you accurately see in your mind’s eye what I saw.

It so happened that I was at two places that struck me as a great place to “people watch” and not really having anywhere else to be, I found myself lost in time just watching the people and their actions. Below are some of the things I observed, and my thoughts on them.

The first place I was at when this hit me was a McDonalds restaurant that is known worldwide, the traffic alone through this place was stimulating, which is more than I can say for the half cooked food.

First there was the couple with the woman who had a Prada purse and dark glasses. She obviously could afford to be elsewhere but had stopped in for a bite to eat off the dollar menu.

The man next to me was in deep thought and writing something down, I was so enthralled by how caught up he was in his thoughts. Knowing it to be rude I did not ask him what was so thought provoking or what he was writing, but I must admit I was very curious.

I found it interesting that this man was less than two feet from my table, yet we would never know each other’s names or anything. It made me realize how sadly disconnected as a society we have become.

Then there was the sanitation worker eating his lunch. I could see him looking at his watch every couple of minutes, knowing he was on somebody’s clock that was not his own. You could almost see the hesitation in his eyes, how he longed for another five minutes before he had to go back to work. I cannot imagine a job like his would be very stimulating, or exciting.

Then the jock sat down to the left of me, fully clad in expensive sports gear from head to toe. He was lost to the beat of his music in his headphones. If this had been in the 80’s I think I might have spotted a Sony Walkman, however he was listening to music on his android tablet. He was so caught up in his music that his two hot apple pies sat next to him, untouched and growing colder by the second. It was like the beat of his music was feeding his hunger, and the half burnt treats next to him meant very little.

I cannot say I enjoyed the this next observation but nonetheless there was the mom sitting with her screaming children. The excitement in their eyes was almost contagious. The mom kept counting her money on the table, obviously caught up with money issues of some kind. Her kids however ran around her oblivious to everything, their biggest concern was what toy came with each other’s happy meal.

Then I was taking a drink from my now lukewarm shake and the woman from the Sports Authority store across the street showed up. She kept mumbling about a 15 minute lunch break not being fair. I looked at her and our eyes met for an instant.

I kept thinking will this beautiful young soul die while crossing the street today, or will she wake up pregnant tomorrow.

On another day I found myself in a courtyard after ordering lunch from blimpie subs.

If you have never been to one it’s like a Subway except the food doesn’t all have that prepackaged taste to it. I highly recommend it. This location was right next to a Trader Joes, and while I have never been inside one of these stores, the masses find them very popular.

It was a very sunny day and the birds were singing their song, hopping under the tables looking for leavings from the sub shops customers. There was the man in the orange polo; he was so wrapped up in his phone he sat there letting his lunch go cold.

Then there was the lady with the long shirt hiding in the shade, her eyes glued to her android tablet. She was completely unaware of how good the sun would feel on her face, instead choosing to huddle and escape into the cold world of technology.

I should have pointed out that at the end of this long courtyard is an L.A. Fitness center. As I ate my lunch I would see hard bodies pass through the corridor on their way to and from their workouts.

A real shock happened when a man walked by smoking a real cigarette, and everyone had a disgusted look on their face.

As he passed I could smell the burning carcinogens coming into the air. In this day when my girlfriend cries when she cannot find her E-cig I realize that our addictions never go away, they just take different forms.

There is a woman next to me in sheer black work clothes, most likely a secretary or office worker. She is munching her salad and listening to her headphones. In the parking lot Mercedes & BMW’s go by. The occasional escalade blends in with them.

As I take the scene in I notice a common theme that I see the world over, people with their heads down and their phones up in the air mindlessly drifting though time and space. Was it always like this, was there a time when mothers actually talked with babies instead of ignoring their child as they pushed the stroller down the street. Was there a time when looking at someone was more important than sending them a message on Facebook. Did we have a period when holding hands meant more than sending an E-card to the person you loved?

Birds continue to chirp and steal crumbs as people sit in the shadows while the sun shines.

People change as they eat and leave but the tables stay in one place. Car alarms chirp and no one even looks up from their screens.

I look at all of these people whose names I will never know, they are all so different yet so the same. They live their lives day by day on a pre-programmed cycle that starts at birth and takes them to the grave. Their existence is predicated on who they will become. I know that all this can change in the blink of an eye, who we are today is not who we will be tomorrow. So many people think people like me and the rest of my travel blogging friends live touched lives, that we have some sort of special aura about us. We are just the same as you; the only difference is we made choices that pushed a little harder, refused that promotion and that commute to work, and sometimes that nice apartment in the city. We chose a life of freedom instead of chains, we never settled and maybe that was for the better and maybe not. We all have a choice; it’s up to each and every one of us to make the right one. No one can tell you what the “right” choice will be, for everyone that is an often very personal decision.

What I wanted to say before I wrapped up this insightful article is that if you are happy, truly happy with your life then it will never matter what others think or say. You are the one that will ultimately decide if you are going to be that sanitation worker, or cliff dive in Thailand. You will ultimately make choices that may have you encounter screaming children, or that may find you on a beach with a tent and 5 dollars to your name. Whether you are poor or rich will never be decided by how much money you have in your pocket, rather it will be decided by how alive and free you feel inside.

Every day I live my life trying to find further freedom from the bonds of society, and ill most likely die in that pursuit one day.

Make every day count, whether you are sailing the ocean blue, or working in an office waiting for payday. We are all special and gifted inside, and no one of us will ever be better than the other no matter how much we think society says otherwise.

Life is a gift, please do not waste it!



Profile photo of Jason Harris

I'm Jay from the popular adventure travel blog Jays Odyssey. I travel the world in search of stories that are off the beaten path. I seek to travel in an "Immersive" way rather than " I got the pic and the T-shirt". I believe that everyone has a story, and I want to travel the world to hear it!Feel free to read my articles here and also to check out my awesome website at

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