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Monday, September 04, 2006

People Watching - A Day in the Life

Thursday, May 20, 1999 at approximately 8:00 p.m. at the Barnes & Nobles in Ocala Florida.
Observation of the main check-out counter located at the front of the store along a large counter. Several book displays nearby and a chair approximately 10 yards away. I observe from various angles near the check-out line.
At the beginning of the observation there are approximately two people who walk up and almost immediately another four persons follow. They all fall in line behind a woman who is already at the checkout counter. Distance is about 2-3 feet and a loosely structured line. There is only one line.
The woman at the counter is an older woman with shoulder length grey/white hair, a turquoise and silver ring, and a bent-wood cane. She is paying for three books and appears to be alone. Little conversation takes place. She leaves the counter slowly but only steps aside. She walks with great difficulty and seems to have trouble holding the books and cane. She is not totally removed from the line but is moving so slowly the next person in line goes up to the counter. The woman with the cane continues in her location for several more minutes.
The next woman who approaches the counter is with a friend. They have been talking quietly but as she begins to pay she tells the cashier the books are for her daughter who is pregnant. As the cashier begins to congratulate her, she tells the cashier she actually has two pregnant daughters. Both women are in blue and begin talking very animatedly about pregnancy, books, etctera. They are very talkative.
The couple behind the women in blue appear irritated. A younger man and woman. The man is incessantly shifting from one foot to another. They are not speaking and have not spoken since getting into line. One is looking left and one is looking right.
There is still a couple of feet between everyone and there is about two feet between this couple as well. Everyone else in line is about a foot from the person they know and about two-three feet from the next pair in line. The young couple begin to speak quietly but appear tense. The girl appears much younger than the man. She looks like she is in her teens and he like early thirties. She is wearing a green evening gown and high heels which are giving her difficulty. She keeps trying to adjust the shoes but is holding a paper cup of coffee and can't manage both. The man is dressed in business attire (long sleeves, tie, no coat) and appears to be in his 30's. The girl in green stands fidgeting her right foot. The woman with the cane finally leaves entirely…very slowly.
The last couple is a middle-aged man and woman. He is partially bald with a large grey beard. She is mousy brown should length hair. They are talking quietly but constantly. They stand close and smile a lot at each other. Both of them are holding cups of coffee. They have two books which the man is holding.
The women in blue are leaving and the young couple approach the counter. The transaction is quiet and the cashier is no longer talking as much. The line is loosely structured and pairs of people are spread out. There is a minimum of talking. The young couple complete the transaction quietly and quickly. They speak very little as they leave. They act very unhappy. The man is carrying the bag and the girl is still struggling with her coffee and shoe as they leave. They are not speaking.
Nobody else has joined the line. The last couple approach the counter to pay. The transaction seems incidental as they continue to speak quietly to each other while interacting with the cashier. They stand close and smile almost continuously but do not touch. They complete the transaction and leave, continuing to talk very animatedly while smiling the entire time.


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