Have you ever noticed how many ideas come to mind when you just observe your surroundings? Writers need to know where to get ideas to write about, and many of mine come from observation without knowing what’s really going on.

Sometimes when you can’t hear, but can just see actions of others, you can write your own script about what you think you saw.

I can stand on my front porch and get the plots of at least three good stories by just watching the neighbors. Sometimes talking to them puts ideas in my head as well.

I’ve been told I’m a good listener. I do enjoy listening to other people talk. It may be why I’ve done so well as a Reading teacher. Ten different children can read the same book to me and depending on word substitutions, inflections or even speed of reading, the story can mean ten different things. Listening to people when they want to tell you something is a good idea, if you’re a writer. The only thing I don’t like hearing is, “You should write a story about THIS!” and then they tell me about something that obviously has captured their passion. No, that’s not my story to tell; if you want it told, you write it.

But today was spent watching. I watched the giant grocery cart in the grocery store parking lot as I parked the car. I even took a picture of it with my phone. Then I went inside and watched all the weekend shoppers load their carts. They seemed more relaxed today. Monday is a holiday – Memorial Day – and perhaps they didn’t feel as rushed? It was pleasant at the grocery store. The cashier when I checked out was probably the kindest, most efficient cashier I’ve encountered in a long time. Usually cashiers talk to the baggers while they scan my items and I wonder if they even know I’m a real person? One day I’m going to send a robot through the check-out line with my items and see if some of them notice. (story idea?) But today this pleasant, happy cashier chatted with me and my son as we checked out. She was a delight to interact with.

On the way out, we heard the announcement about free hot dogs in the parking lot by the giant shopping cart. Oh, boy, lunch! So my son and I stopped for a hot dog. The man behind the counter gave me samples of different items and with the sun shining and the temperatures mild, we completed our trip with happy dispositions.

Spending $200 on groceries can be distressing. Today it was not.


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