People Watching

I'm sitting at one of the outdoor tables at Macleod's, a restaurant and bar at the corner of Market Square. They have great cheeseburgers and fries here, so I've come to sit in the sunshine and watch people while I eat my burger. The first thing I see is a mother, Gramps, and a small child. Mom has managed to collapse a very complex looking stroller, and she's fighting to get it into the trunk of the car. The small child is just tall enough to see over the lip of the trunk, so he's monitoring the stroller struggle very intently. Grandpa is holding a green pool noodle. He's using the end of it to hit Mom on the arm as she tries to push the stroller in. He has a twinkle in his eye. He's trying to see how long it will take her to react to the noodle's attacks. Finally, she snatches the noodle away and puts it in the trunk good-naturedly. Gramps turns his attention to the child, and scoops him up sideways in his arms. The boy squeals. Meanwhile, there's a well dressed woman waiting on the corner next to my table. She's looking for someone. She's wearing a pink cardigan and a nice skirt, and black sandals. She looks very put together, but she's annoyed because she doesn't see the person she's looking for. There's a gnat that keeps buzzing around my face, despite my attempts to wave him away. A Valley Produce truck stops across the street. The logo says that Great Potatoes are our Specialty! Two women walk by sharing a recipe. I hear one say, "...chopped tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette...". The guy at the table next to me has knocked his drink over. He's picking up the ice cubes with his hands and putting them back into his glass. I pretend that I don't notice. A woman walks by with a bag full of library books. (I walk that same route with my bag of library books a couple of times a week. I hope she picked some good ones). The gnat is back. Two very pregnant women are walking together. They get to the end of the sidewalk and step off the curb with some difficulty. A pickup truck waits for them to slowly cross the street. There's a couple two tables over from me. The woman has been running a monologue for about 15 minutes straight. The man hasn't said a word. (Sometimes I feel like that when I'm talking to Tony. I'll realize I've been talking endlessly just to try to hit on something that he'll comment on. I've gotten to where I'll just stop and say "This is the point in the conversation where you say something"). I can't tell if this woman wants the man to comment or if she just has a lot to say. A group of 4 or 5 lawyers/bankers walk by. They all have very nice shoes. I wonder if it is a job requirement for them to have such nice shiny shoes. They pass a family walking the other way. The Dad has a little girl riding on his shoulders. She has a bright red bow in her hair. My burger and fries come. Pink Cardigan Woman has finally found who she was looking for. He's a guy in jeans and an old t-shirt. I never would have put those two together. She's annoyed with him. A woman and a little girl walk by. They're both singing "Loo, loo, Skip to my loo! Skip to my loo my darlin'." (I wonder if this song is really about skipping to a bathroom). Non-Stop Talking Woman's food has arrived. She's telling the waiter that she ordered rice, not fries. He's taking her plate back. A guy is delivering a bunch of office water cooler bottles. He has 6 of them balanced on a dolly. He rolls them off the same curb that gave the pregnant women such trouble. He doesn't give the curb a second thought. I'm now humming the Skip to My Loo song. Non-Stop Talker's rice has arrived. That doesn't slow her down a bit. Still not a word from the man with her. A teenaged girl with dyed black hair, a black t-shirt, black capris, and black Coverse shoes walks by. I wonder if I could get away with wearing capris and my Chucks at the same time. Mine aren't black, but it still may be a little too "alternative" for me. Some bikes cops have stopped under the shade of the trees to talk to each other. A car drives by. It has "Lady Bandits are # 1!" written on the back windshield. Erica # 3 is on the side. I wonder who the Lady Bandits are and what they play. Two guys meet on the other side of the street. One is a young guy in jeans and a polo shirt. The other is older with a tie and Dockers. They shake hands and talk animatedly. Another unlikely pair. The gnat lands on the side of my sunglasses. I should just squish him and put him out of my misery. There is a person taking pictures with a small digital camera. I can't tell if it is a man or a woman. They are snapping shots of Krutch park by holding the camera out at arm's length for long periods of time. Non-stop talker and her silent companion leave. A woman comes out of Bliss. She is pushing a rolling cart with a large overstuffed beige chair on it. She pushes it to the road and waits. The sun has moved so that I'm no longer in the shade of the umbrella overhead. It's getting warm. I can hear the guy who regularly plays the guitar in Market Square. He's singing something, but I can't make out the words from here. A guy walks up and asks if he can sit at my table. He's got a book in his hand and headphones on, so he's not one to try to make small talk. I hate small talk. I gesture towards the chair opposite me. I've decided that the picture-taker is a woman. A woman with no curves but very muscular arms. A man in suspenders walks by. You don't see suspenders very often anymore. Woman with overstuffed chair has supervised its loading into the back of a truck. She's going back to the store to get a red sofa. My check has come. I nod to the guy sharing my table and leave the patio. On the way out I notice that non-stop talker didn't eat any of her rice. Probably too much talking. All these different people from all these different places are doing all these different things, yet the thing that they have in common is that they all came together during the same hour on a Friday afternoon in downtown Knoxville to entertain me during lunch.