People Watching.
Copyright 2013, 2018 by Raymond Johnson. Fourth edition.
Cover photo provided by Gary Martin. (

Dedicated to all writers out there, working tirelessly, sculpting the imagination using words as tools and taking inspiration form real life.

"To watch. To wait. To wonder at the world in chaos, and hope one day fools might learn." - David Hewson.

Stuck at home, while awaiting a parcel to be delivered, a middle aged man finds himself with nothing to do and spends most of his day peering out of the window watching passers by. He realises his neighbourhood is far more interesting than what he first thought and is fascinated at what people get up to.

This light hearted short story is loosely based upon actual events.



Chapter 1 - Early Start

My mind was at total peace filled with overlapping dreams that bore no relationship to reality yet to my sleepy brain they were as real as life. The dream I was currently experiencing was about me walking down an unknown street with the blazing sun overhead heating my cheek while the ground gently vibrated filling me with calm serenity. The vibrations then increased shaking at the very foundations of my dream world filling my head with the high pitched sound of a gong being hit repeatedly. Was it dinner time already? I wondered within my dream state. There was also someone cursing loudly, effing and blinding like a sailor who caught himself within his trouser zip. Maybe he was late for dinner too.

The dream dispersed almost immediately as I woke yet the metallic gong and the swearing continued. My pet cat Jubjub was half sitting upon my face, purring loudly, while I continued to recover my senses.

It was a few moments before I realised the metallic sound of metal hitting against metal was real as well as the very loud swearing. While still groggy I gazed toward the clock which displayed 5:58 in bright red numerals. I wondered whether to take a look out of the window or not at the source of the noise or whether to simply go back to sleep.

There was then a momentary panic that shot through one part of my mind before the rational part had time to process it. Was it 5:58 in the morning or afternoon? I already knew it was early morning for there was no way I could have slept throughout the day without waking up, but the millisecond of panic was enough to force me to climb out of bed and disturb Jubjub from his slumber.

It was early summer, the sun had risen over an hour earlier so it was clearly daylight as I peeped out from the side of the curtains taking care not to be spotted.

There was patch waste ground opposite that once was covered with lush green trees that had been removed giving access to work vehicles as they built houses further down the street. I remembered the annoyance as each vehicle reversed, beeping as they did so, warning everyone within a two mile radius to get out of the way. With over six work vehicles the beeping was constant. But the houses had been finished long ago and the lorries gone, so I hoped the noises of builders had ceased too.

However, the left over patch of waste ground had been left with a rackety fence around it while the ground itself was covered with heaps of earth. It had been said that it would be converted into a children's play area, with swings, roundabouts and the like, but I was sure it was just a rumour as no council in their right mind would build a children's playground next to a busy main road. That would be insane.

Well it was clear that I was totally wrong because the fence around the waste ground was being re-erected along with a large sign explaining its future use. The builder, totally ignorant as to the time of day, proceeded to hit his metal hammer against the metal fence causing the entire thing to echo like a bell waking everyone in the nearby houses. I couldn't see the loud man swearing at him but I could surly hear him as he continued cursing and effing at the builder who carried on regardless.

I knew I would never get back to sleep but I clambered back into bed anyway and closed my eyes.


Chapter 2 - Total Boredom

To my surprise I found myself waking up three hours later with Jubjub still at my side and total silence outside. I couldn't believe I slept through all that racket and I wondered if the angry man did eventually silence the builder.

I knew it was going to be along day today for I had nothing whatsoever to do apart from staying in waiting around for a parcel to arrive. I hoped the postman hadn't arrived early and left a card in the door as it was already after nine.

I carefully peeled Jubjub from my face once more then heaved myself out of bed before talking another quick peek out of the window. The fence around the waste ground was secure as well as a new metal gate from which a padlock hung. The council sign declaring its future use was clearly on display albeit at a strange angle as if to intentionally not lot let passers by see it. I wondered how annoying it would soon become when it was in use, filling the air with the sound of screaming kids during the day and drunken layabouts at night.

After getting myself dressed I left the bedroom heading straight for the kitchen, passing the front door letterbox on the way making sure there was no postman delivery card.

I switched on the kettle then debated with myself whether I should even attempt to shave that day for I knew the likelihood of the postman knocking while I had shaving cream all over my face was greater than if I never bothered to shave.

I was a tea drinker, I loved tea, there was something about tea that made me feel calm even though it never really tasted of anything. Coffee on the other hand had a far stronger taste and there was a common belief that it awaked the mind and body making it the perfect morning drink. To be honest I never experienced any buzz to drinking coffee whatsoever, whether I drank during the morning or the night, but even so I decided to have a nice hot cup of milky coffee instead. Coffee also had the advantage of being quicker to make.

If it had been the weekend then the day would have been filled with excitement even if I had to stay in. I could have watched television, listened to the radio, played on the Xbox, but those options weren't open to me during a weekday. Television was totally different, with wall to wall programmes about antiques, as well as shows about people moving house. The radio was different too catering for people who were brainless. Even playing games on the Xbox was out of the question, as there was no one to play it with.

Once the kettle switched off I poured it into my mug and made myself a coffee before carrying it into the living room and sitting down.

I had only been up for ten minutes and I was already bored.


Chapter 3 - A Jogger

Maybe if I wasn't such a boring person I could think of something better to do? I thought to myself as I poured out my second coffee of the day. I didn't really mean it, I was teasing myself, something I often did while bored. I looked toward the kitchen window as I could see droplets of water form against its pane. Even though I was inside I felt annoyance with the rain as it would likely slow the postman down or even prevent him delivering my parcel altogether.

I stared at the window as the droplets became heavier until I could hear them bouncing against the pane. I took a few steps forward, my coffee mug in hand, and took a glance outside. The sky was grey and overcast looking as though a heavy downpour was on its way.

Something then caught my eye which in many ways looked most surreal yet was perfectly normal as to the situation. The human mind had a tendency to dismiss certain things as unimportant while others as something to notice. I was reminded of a quote some years earlier about a psychologist who spoke about how people with hearing aids were more noticeable than people who wore spectacles, even though glasses were more prominent upon their face. In other words people are more likely to notice things if they are not an everyday occurrence, you only notice what is unusual. Anyway I digress.

What caught my eye from the window was a woman, wearing a tracksuit, running in the rain. It wasn't strange at all for the rain had only just started. What was unusual however was that she had her dog with her, on a lead, which ran along beside her. She may not in fact have been a jogger at all but just someone who was taking her dog for a walk while wearing a tracksuit who had inadvertently got caught out in the rain and was running back home as to not get wet.

I smiled to myself having no idea why I found the situation funny as it was not funny whatsoever. There were plenty of other people across the street that were also caught by the sudden change of weather yet I didn't find their situation funny.

I continued to watch her as she jogged further down the street then across the road back to her house. I sipped my coffee then calmly walked away from the window before leaning against the wall wondering what to do next.


Chapter 4 - A Very Happy Man

It wasn't too long before I received another surprise from outside the window, in fact I was still on the same cup of coffee so it was a matter of mere minutes later. There were still people scurrying home, many of them with bags of heavy shopping, trying to get out of the rain which, due to the darkening sky, appeared very close to a downpour.

An old man who appeared to be in his early seventies was trotting home in a half walk half run manner whilst pushing one of those trolleys that old ladies often use to carry their shopping. Not only are they useful for carrying groceries but they also have the advantage of acting as a walking frame so long as it's full and acts as a counter weight against the person pushing it. They are popular with the old but occasionally younger people can be seen with them.

This man had a huge grin upon his face and at first I wondered if he could see me because his smile appeared as though responding to someone yet there was no one near enough to him to react to. He then started speaking loudly over the sound of the rain before giggling in an old man tone.

I leant back from the curtain and waited a moment before taking another look. He clearly wasn't speaking to me so I wondered if he may have in fact had a phone with him or even one of those blasted Bluetooth headsets. As I continued to watch fascinated by this man conversing with himself I managed to hear some of what he was saying.

"Six loaves," he said before laughing, "Six loaves. Coo."

He shook his head while his grin remained fixed. I continued to stare before I heard a noise next to my front door. It wasn't a knock but there was still a chance that it may have been the postman so I quickly put down my coffee cup, left the kitchen and rushed towards the front door only to be disappointed as it was nothing more than someone walking by.

I hated waiting in, it was doing my head in. Why couldn't postmen always arrive at fixed times of the day rather than staggering delivery times? I was becoming increasingly annoyed and wished I never bought items through the post. They may have been slightly cheaper but at least if I had gone to the shops in person I wouldn't have to wait around for it to be delivered.

I calmly walked away from the front door and headed back to the kitchen taking another look out of the window. The man had gone. He had obviously got a bargain with his six loaves of bread and he didn't have to wait for them either.


Chapter 5 - An Unbelievable Sight

Later that day, just a few hours in fact but it felt a lot longer, I had gone back to the bedroom laying myself on top of the bed, not with the intention of sleeping but just trying to pass the time. The rain had stopped but the sky was still overcast and grey filling my bedroom with a dreary glow giving the appearance that it was late evening rather than midday. I so wished I had been tired but my brain and body were both fully alert while my mind was filled with boredom.

I jumped up from the bed then adjusted my lopsided clothing before taking a quick glimpse out of the window. The ground was wet reflecting what little light there was that tried its best to squeeze itself between the clouds.

I stared at the pavement beside the car park. Someone had left a pile of food out for the many birds that frequented the area. There were often seagulls during the early mornings followed by pigeons the rest of the day so it wasn't an unusual sight to see piles of bread or dried up flakes of whatever was left over at the restaurant across the street.

What amazed me however was the sight of a black fluffy cat and a crow eating this pile of bird food side by side. It appeared the cat was so preoccupied with eating that it didn't notice the bird beside it, while the crow, a very large one in fact, didn't to be in the least bothered by the cat. I so wished I had a camera at hand but it wasn't long before the crow calmly flew away.


Chapter 6 - Make Up Your Blasted Mind

The postman still hadn't arrived as it approached early afternoon. I was beginning to think he would never come and I was likely to have to spend the following day doing the same thing. I was no longer in the kitchen or bedroom, this time I was in the living room, as I spied upon whoever passed by.

It was a while before anything happened but it was worth the wait when a most oddly behaving woman caught my eye as she walked down the street.

She was pushing a baby in a pushchair, one of those common type of pushchairs where the baby faces the front and almost permanently cries due to the fact that it's unaware that their mother is pushing behind. Babies have no sense of the world, they don't know pushchairs don't move by themselves and someone has to push. Have the baby facing the parent then it won't cry, it's simple logic.

The strange woman pushing the pushchair repeatedly stopped to look underneath each car she passed, she didn't even crouch down to look, she stood with straight legs and bent her body over. I guessed she must have passed earlier and had dropped something that she was now searching for.

She looked Chinese and wore bland green trousers, a black jacket that didn't quite cover her body and a black backpack with lots of winding straps.

She didn't appear to have any reaction to the mud or gravel next to the curb and simply pushed the pushchair through the mud and over a bumpy manhole cover even directly through what was left of the pile of food someone had left for the birds.

She then stopped and looked toward some workers who had returned to the waste ground continuing to fiddle with the already intact fence. For a moment I thought she may be one of their wives or girlfriends but she didn't walk over to them she simply stopped and stared.

I wondered if she heard about the new park being built and expected it to already be finished. Maybe she was taking her child there to play.

Removing her backpack, which took her quite some time as she struggled with the straps, she pulled out a mobile phone and a pair of sunglasses then immediately put the phone into her pocket and the glasses upon her face.

She then turned the pushchair and pushed it away from the waste ground and pushed it back along the pavement the way she came, while still continuing to stop and look under the very same cars again as she had previously. Suddenly she pointed at something, it was an exaggerated point as if she knew she was being watched but the baby could not have possibly seen her in that position. She proceeded to walk around the car, and over to the temporary fence the builders had erected around the waste ground, and picked up what looked to be a clear plastic cup putting it into a shopping bag hanging from the back of the pushchair.

I guessed she was just collecting rubbish in order to recycle it and was enjoying it more so having her child with her.

As she attempted to move back along the pavement, pushing the pushchair, in almost an instant she stopped and rubbed her feet against the ground presumably to scrape off mud stuck to her shoes. She then retrieved the plastic cup back out of the bag and began to wipe it with a handkerchief then put it back inside followed by scraping her feet against the ground again.

I was totally engrossed by what was going on. Maybe I was mistaken, maybe it wasn't a plastic cup at all, but either way she was acting very peculiar. She was probably Japanese they can be eccentric at times.

She then removed her right shoe and pulled up her sock and put her shoe back on, and scraped it on the ground again. Then did the exact same ritual for the left foot including scraping her shoe against the ground once more.

Finally she continued pushing the pushchair back along the pavement but I couldn't believe my eyes when she stopped yet again. She bent down causing her tiny small jacket to ruck up revealing bare skin and a bit of bottom cleavage. She checked on the baby and began to fiddle with something on the front of the pushchair then continued to push it for just a few more feet then stopped again to rearrange her backpack straps.

As she began to push it again without looking where she was going she pushed it off the curb and into the road, then stopped to look at the wheel and fiddle with the front of the pushchair some more.

She did eventually get going but the entire incident must have taken around twenty minutes. I had no idea what was going on, she must have been loopy. Nice arse though.


Chapter 7 - The Postman

The one person I was hoping to arrive finally did as I saw the postman pushing his large post trolley down my street stopping to post items along the way. I let out a sigh of relief and knew it would only be a few more minutes at most before he finally arrived.

I went into the kitchen and put on the kettle ready to make a nice cup of refreshing tea while opening my package. I also switched on the radio and didn't care about the annoying presenter waffling on and on about something unimportant. Finally my boredom was about to be put to rest and I could spend the rest of the day doing something creative rather than moping around.

I could hear the postman walking up the path towards my house ready to knock on my door so I could receive my delivery. I rushed over to the front door in anticipation like an overexcited child at Christmas. The letter box opened and my parcel slipped through and dropped onto the doormat then the postman calmly left proceeding with his deliveries.

I stared with mixed emotions. It was an expensive item and I was told I would need to sign for it. Why did I need to wait in all day? I picked it up then placed it upon the table before walking over to the window.



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