adventure

Up, Up and Away

Today I flew on a plane for the second time since March 2020. The first time was in May for a funeral when many cities were still in shutdown mode. I thought that was an interesting experience back then and I’m sure I documented it but since I was probably numb from the loss of a loved one I didn’t observe everything I could have.

That first flight interaction was new and seemed different. Wearing a mask. Socially distancing. So many rules yet this time was even more of a drastic change. Plastic dividers in the security check line. Masks, gloves, social distancing signs everywhere. Nobody says anything to you. Nobody sits near you in the waiting area. Many restaurants and bars are boarded up in the concourse. Desolate in certain areas.

And if somebody moved off their 6-foot dot in error boy did eyebrows flare in lines. Many may not realize how expressive eyes can be. When masks are on everyone’s eyes are even more fierce. I can see sad eyes, stressed eyes, tired eyes and even angry eyes. 

I made the best of my travels. I enjoyed the extra space on the plane itself. I overly enjoyed the people watching as I usually do, but this time I seemed to really savor the experience.

It started in the parking lot when an interesting person chatted it up about parking fees. Then we entered into baggage claim where apparently somebody was returning from the tropics and pretty much left their bathing suit on (it was not visibly pleasing). Then at checkin there was a gentleman with super cool pants that he must have designed himself. A mix match of patterns that flowed nicely in such a clever way. I was jealous.

Moving on to the security check and here I focused on masks. Who was wearing what mask and what did the mask tell me about said person. It was almost a game of sorts with myself in the line. Of course I will never really know if I was right or wrong but I sure did pass time and enjoyed being curious.

Then onto the security scanner which I had to go through multiple times. I didn’t wear the right slip-on shoes so it was a lace up lace down task on repeat for this girl. At least I wasn’t the only one. Every time I had put my shoes on waiting for my bag only to find out I had to go back through and that required shoes on/off. Maybe they should say hold up wait for your bag before you put on your shoes. Then a moment of panic keeping up with my cell phone as I ran back and forth. My everything is online from the airplane ticket to the car rental to the no-touch hotel checkin. Help, I need my phone!

Then the escalator and transit system to the gate. Here I was asked for directions. Puzzling since the signs were in abundance but maybe he couldn’t read. Anyway I had a skull mask on so my travel buddy said geez you look like the least approachable person with that mask yet you have been approached twice. Pretty funny to me but maybe my eyes said I’m nice? Who knows.

At the end of my travels, I can say I had fun. A field trip of sorts. I got to see more people in one place than I have seen all year. It was a wonderful occasion. I wasn’t really excited to fly with the recent outbreak of cases but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless.

I love people. I love conversation. I love to watch how things flow. I like to see new places. I just like to explore and that’s what I’m doing. Exploring the new world through my lens and that’s why I’m writing this post.

In case you can’t get out to explore maybe this blog post will show you to do so in spirit with me. I share my lens with you. Enjoy!

perspective

Passing Time in Class

A short time ago in reality but in my mind it seems like years ago, I was in a multi-day professional training. Attire was casual but attention to learning was expected. I had an open mind as day one began. Seems funny to recap this now since most people are stuck inside 24/7 these days.

Commuter time was long and exhausting for many but some had hotels with no commute. A luxury many of us actually miss today (traffic/people/hotels). Coffee was served until 10 am to spark the day but nothing after lunch. How would this impact the audience? Would limiting caffeine hinder learning or attentiveness? Another reminder of how much I miss coffee dates with friends, sigh.

A couple of the speakers were slow in getting their concept across or ill-prepared at times. Unfortunately that seems to make time move at a turtle’s pace for many, myself included. When time seems to stand still for me my mind wanders. I people watch. When time slows in the afternoon the overall audience aura changes. I especially enjoy people watching during and after the shift. I wonder if people carb loaded at lunch or if the lack of caffeine caused their shift.

As day one ended I noticed a gal using play doh in another row. I thought it was odd then saw another doing it. I was ever so curious so I asked what the significance was and both said stress relief and ability to concentrate is the motivation. Okay I can buy into that I said to myself and moved on.

Next day it was a couple different people this time with coloring books. One had felt tip markers, one colored pencils and another crayons. By the next day the color sheets seemed more elaborate as well. I wasn’t in shock rather I thought if I was the presenter I might reevaluate my performance, that I wasn’t being engaging or there was too much idle time built into the day. Neither seemed apparent to the presenter.

The next day I noticed a woman knitting. Not just knitting a cap for a baby this was a full blown scarf or blanket of sorts. At this point I seem flabbergasted. How would I feel as the presenter? Shocked that the focus was not on the presenter and the content he/she was supposed to present. Then I saw the neon stress ball group in the back row. Then the smackers who used food to soothe their environmental stresses.

Using tools of soothing was normal behavior in this class group. I have doodled in the past in trainings and school in general but have never taken these more extreme measures. Or are they extreme? If my kid used this strategy in high school or middle school would it be an acceptable concentration method? Would a teacher be offended? Would the concession be allowed or would it cause chaos among other students?

Is this a new trend? Am I old? How would this culture affect you as a trainer? I neglected to mention there was also the classic person who nodded off but we had a full-fledged snorer on day 4 after lunch. Might have been my favorite to watch from a distance.

In a world of videos, I wouldn’t envy the person sleeping as it might be sent digitally to their big boss. Just food for thought. For me I will stick to my old school training and try my darnedest to pay attention in this type of formal training. Mostly out of respect to the person conducting the training as the content may be difficult to present at times.

No matter what your perspective is, I applaud bold folks for taking initiative to calm their minds and nerves to enable themselves to focus and realign as needed to be successful in their environment. As a footnote to this paragraph: I wrote this weeks before the corona pandemic. I had no idea how it would totally come full circle as I sit in my own home on lockdown. A time out from life.

This is clearly my observation post. Maybe you are a stress ball person or maybe a coloring book type. Whatever your stress relief I applaud you. Don’t mind the people watchers like me. My tool is observing my environment. Assessing the whos, the whats, the whys and so on.

Thankfully my in service training has come and gone so I can get back to my routines being routine and keep my people watching distractions to a minimum especially while
in isolation. It is again an irony that I initially wrote this post pre-corona yet it’s applicable to life today. No routines, keeping my distance, and of course limiting my
people watching because I’m on lockdown.

It’s also apparent that in these crazy times people of all ages and mindsets need refreshing and new ideas to comfort them and shift their focus. I chose to take a long bike ride today. I enjoyed the crisp fresh air. I listened to the peaceful sounds around me.

Knitting may be your thing or maybe it’s playing cards or playing video games. Find your niche and get your groove on when you need to. This blog post was written sometime during the self-quarantine phase of the great corona virus 2020.

While in quarantine I have resorted to coloring my driveway with sidewalk chalk and chalk paint. I have blown many bubbles with those super size bubble blowers. I planted flowers and even a few trees. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned more times than I can think. I colored. I sent care packages by mail. I binged watched Netflix more than I should have. I’m sure some of these idea came from my people watching time in the past. And the list continues….

Drop me a note to let me know what you have been up to in isolation.

awareness

The One about the Turtle Crossing the Road

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When she was little, my daughter Anne loved turtles.  She used “turtle girl” as her nickname online.  She had a turtle named Swimmy for a pet.  She loved reading about turtles.  When we went to the beach, I scheduled time for us to work with local turtle patrols, visit aquariums, or watch turtle hatchlings be released into the ocean.

Turtles were her thing.

She’e a teenager now and her interests have broadened, but deep down I think she still has a soft spot for turtles.

So it didn’t surprise me a couple of weeks ago when we were out and about, driving on a long rural road, and I dodged a turtle stopped right in the middle of our lane.

Just like I used to do when Anne was little, I screamed “turtle!” and, just like she did when she was little, she yelled “turn around!”

It was a long stretch of road with rolling hills…visibility was tricky…cars were flying by…no flat shoulder and few places to turn around.  When I finally turned to go back for the turtle, someone came up speeding behind me so I couldn’t pull over.  So, we found a place to turn around again, and tried again.

I had my hazard lights on so people knew I was up to something.  Pulled over on a soft grassy spot, then she gave a quick look and jumped out of the car.  She ran full force probably seventy-five yards back and got the little guy.  She picked him up gently and moved him across the road in the direction he was going, just like we learned about when she was little.  She placed him down right by a small pond near the side of the road.  And off he went. Safe for the moment.  And then off we went toward our destination, feeling like we helped the world in some small way.

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At least five cars passed over him while we were making that multi-step turn around.  Who knows how many more had flown past him, over him, as he slowly made his way across the lanes toward his goal.

All this made me wonder about how many people I know, who I see daily, who are trying to cross their own treacherous lanes in life.  How many people do I know who are moving toward goals but keep dodging obstacles, negativity, or just the rushing flow of the daily grind? How many are in periods where things in life are flying by, in different directions, leaving them pulled into their shells much of the time?

Do I even notice them?  Or am I just speeding by, consumed with my own tasks and concerns, not even seeing those who I could help along if I just slowed down and took time to pay attention?

And how can I lift them up, shoulder their burden, ease their journey somehow? How can I put my lights on so people know I am slowing down, wanting to help, up to something?

These are the questions that are on my mind this morning. It doesn’t take that much to help someone across a scary patch.  I just need to pay more attention, be willing to slow down. Be more open and attentive. Work to see the potholes and rough patches others might be crossing. Sharing my own bumps and tumbles so they feel safe sharing their own.

What good is it to make it to my destination more quickly, if I have passed over others I could have helped along the way?

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anonymous letters, perspective

People Watching

I have always been a people watcher. People are fascinating to me in many ways.

How we communicate: body language, facial expressions, tones of voice and so much more. They all strike my fancy.

If I am on a stationary bike at the gym, I am silently observing, thinking: what does this person do for work? Do they have a family? How many days do they train to have abs of steel? The list goes on and on.

Now change the scenery to Walmart. There are not enough words to describe the diversity in Walmart. From the staff to the clientele. There is always such a broad range. Why would she wear that in public? Does anyone smell my gym sweat and wonder why I am out in public smelling so bad? My, how you see parents who get controlled or swindled by their kids in the toy department. Then there are the attention-seeking kids who frazzle their parents last nerve until they blow a gasket. It’s all entertainment if you soak it all up.

This week my adventures took me to the airport. This is another favorite people-watching palace. I get the business folks. They keep to themselves but it’s great to see their fashion and their multitasking with the cell phones and laptops in between flights. You have the vacationers: the young, the old, the groups, the families, and more. They all are recapping memories. Smiling for some, arguing for others. But the various interactions are stimulating for someone like me.

Move on to the plane. What a weird place. You sit on top of perfect strangers on most flights. The air is dry. The smell is varied. The germs are plentiful. On this recent flight I had what I would sum up as a lifetime smoker who picked up a bad cough on his trip sitting behind me. He coughed the whole flight. He had no limit of coughing into his sleeve, causing germs to go airborne, literally. Talk about the eww factor.

Ahh…then the transport to the rental car hub. Most are tired and cranky from travel and patience is limited. Enter long lines to get your car. Oh, how one person’s checkout is like a Jerry Springer episode. People should always treat others they way they want to be treated. Most angry customers forget the clerk at the counter is a low man on the totem pole just doing their job. We should all think about making that workers day not pissing in their Cheerios. Choose kind. You will inevitably get better service!

And I almost forgot the parking lot. The paid parking lot at the airport on a holiday weekend that said “spaces available.” Well, the dude on the bike with a flag checking availability must have been on break because there were no spots. Tick-tock, I am going to miss my flight and so are the other frantic drivers in the lot. A few near-accident misses from other cars darting for the one open space 10 other cars want.

It’s my lucky day! I found a lady going to her car. I stalked her. For real! She pulls out of the tiny spot. Am I going to fit? Uggh. Yes, but by a hair. My passenger must climb through my driver’s side. I take a step back and I have an extra large SUV on each side in what appears to be compact-sized spaces.

I leave a note for the person. Please don’t hit my car! I guess I will find out when I return. Did I mention my note was in the form of a sticky note I had in my car? Well, it wasn’t an ordinary sticky note. It said WTF on the top. The notepad was a gift from a friend a while back….bet they didn’t know how it would be used. The Mary Kay big-wig in her pinkish Escalade who receives the note is going be angry when she gets back to her car. I am hopeful my flight returns before hers.

These are just a glimpse of my recent people-watching adventures. I people watch each day. I learn. I observe. I grow. I meet new people along the way. I embrace other people and their quirkiness.

l love to hear from our readers near and far. Send me a note or comment below on some of your most memorable people watching episodes. I spared you the booger picking and camel toe stories in my past but I love a good story so send me yours.