There are few things as entertaining as sitting or standing away from the crush of the maddening crowd to observe our fellow humans. And it costs you nothing but an investment of your time and the willingness to smile, chuckle, or laugh out loud. There is a piece de resistance to such real-world laboratory exercise. It is educational.

Let’s assume you realize the term “educational” can mean both the positive and negative accumulation of knowledge. In the case of watching people’s behavior, we almost instinctively know what we want to avoid or what we are eager to try in our personal lives. In other words, it can be a teaching moment.

For example, a child takes an item off the store shelf and pockets it without paying for it. The parent may ignore his or her action or smack the kid’s thieving butt and make the child return the item to the store manager. Humiliation is a wonderful teaching tool. The child learns actions have consequences.

Unfortunately, some adults have no shame when it comes to doing something either illegal or just plain unseemly, such as taking a bag of cookies from the store shelf. They may eat all or most of the bag and leave it on a shelf without paying. The problem is children are always watching. They learn unintended life lessons of either a positive or negative nature.

For example, during the church service our 4-year old son dropped the quarter he planned to put in the collection box. A man sitting nearby picked up the coin, pocketed it then watched the child look for it in vain. What the man missed is the disappointed look in our son’s eyes because he saw the man take the coin. “Why did that man steal my money in church?” he later asked.

Disappointment in our fellow humans is often the norm rather than the exception. Hubby bought Lotto tickets for several people. As he walked away from the counter, he noticed one ticket was missing. The culprit could be the person standing behind him or the checker. Neither one spoke up when Hubby asked the checker if she saw his missing ticket.

There are countless entertaining and instructive moments for the people watcher.  For example, the teenager walking in the mall with eyes glued to her cell phone learned about a law of physics — what goes up must come down — the hard way.

She crashed into a young mother walking toward a table carrying a tray filled with food and drinks for her children. The food and drinks flew up in the air and showered the mother and the stunned teen, while the young children sitting at the table howled.

Aside from the physics lesson is a more obvious one the teen may or may not learn. Your eyes off the cell. Watch where you are going.

How often have you caught someone blow or pick their nose and then pick up a document or shake another person’s hand without so much as a swipe with a hand sanitizer? Does that visual set of your gag reflex?

Since males are jumping on board the fad of growing furry, unkempt bushes on their faces and chins, another visual is becoming quite common. A simple cosmic law the bearded ones often forget is the consequence of sporting a full beard. Beards attract food particles that decorate the furry facial beasts. In fact, the resulting visual may push your squeamish button to red alert.

Based on the frequent and unconscious public tugging perpetrated on undergarments and body parts, people must believe an opaque shield hides them from view. News flash! We can see what you tug at and move. It is not a pretty sight.

On behalf of the people watchers, be ready for public consumption before you leave the house. No tugging or adjusting, please. Someone is watching and disgusted.


“Fractured Proverbs and Twisted Thoughts” available in paperback & eBook available on

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