I wasn’t sure of what I was going to write about today, but I thought I’d turn my attention to my experience yesterday of going to the Apple Store and finally getting my phone fixed. Although, more accurate, I guess would be the fact that they replaced the defective unit with a replacement phone, but irregardless, I now have working phone. While that is great, what I really want to note was the amazing level of diversity in the store as well as the fact that there were plenty of examples of characters that were in the store during my brief visit.
Characters, Characters, Everywhere
So, unlike most of the customers, I wasn’t in the store to shop, but to get technical assistance. In doing so, I (and the few who were like me) had to do a lot of waiting on the outskirts and so I got to do something that I rarely do and that’s to actually observe people as they interact with others. Remember, I don’t necessarily enjoy “people watching,” and perhaps that’s why I don’t write characters as well as I do plots. Well, yesterday I got to observe, really observe, people and I saw a huge range of emotions, personalities, and personal interactions that I have stored away for future references. Normally, I consider people watching a useless endeavor, but for some reason, yesterday, I found myself mostly “bemused” as I waited for the technician to diagnose my phone and I actually watched the people. In particular, I saw (in no order): two typical high school students (boys joshing around with each other), a mother with a stroller, a young boy watching the Apple TV in the store and playing games on it, a husband and wife deciding on a laptop, another husband and wife deciding on phone, an older gentleman with a phone problem much like mine, an early career woman looking for a new phone, and a business man dressed in button shirt, slacks, and a tie, among others.
So, I remember from watching episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Sisko’s son, Jake, while wanting to be a writer, sat on the ship’s promenade and noted the people who were entering the station and he wrote one or two sentences down as character sketches. While I was only in the store for a fairly short period of time (50 minutes approximately), I still feel like I got a year’s worth of potential characters just from visit. For instance, the business man was dressed just as one might expect and he was even checking his watch in manner, that while not completely displaying impatience, did seem to indicate that time was important to him–perhaps he had an important appointment, or perhaps he needed to pick up a child from school. Whatever the reason, time was important to him and that’s something I could use in a future story somehow.
So, even though losing the phone was an ordinary frustration of life, I now have a more concrete understanding of characterization because of it. I doubt that I’ll ever come to love the phenomenon of “people watching,” but maybe if I can at least learn to tolerate it over short periods of time, I might yet be the writer I’ve always hoped that I’d become.