Friday, March 6, 2015

Front Window: An Observational Piece on the Art of People Watching

It has been an interesting year living on a main street in Parma. My bedroom window faces the street, and in all my life I have never lived on a main street before. As one might imagine, this means there is plenty of traffic to watch streaking past at what I often suspect is faster than the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour. That is one thing that I see a lot of as I sit on my bed at look out into the world around me. However, that is not the only thing I have observed. I also had a chance to observe the three houses that are across the street from me, and the interesting things about each one.

To begin, the house on the left hand side has a long driveway that curves behind that house. Most often when cars pull into this driveway they give the illusion that they disappear; and there is a bit of coming and going at this house. In fact this house is interesting because it seems that at all hours of the night cars often leave out of this driveway. I have seen headlights almost eerily creep out of this driveway at midnight on several occasions. Also I see cars pull into the driveway around 8:30am. One time more recently I saw a car get stuck trying to pull into this house’s drive. They had to back out onto the street and get momentum in order to plow through the hard, deep, snow. I can’t judge, as I got stuck in our driveway last week and had to dig myself out. My conclusion has been that the folks who live at this residence probably work night shifts.

The house directly across the street is equally if not more interesting. Back in August I began to pay closer attention to it when a police cruiser pulled into the driveway and the officer began looking around and inside the old late 80’s early 90’s model ford van parked in the driveway. The officer then proceeded to knock on the door of the house and no one answered. Since that summer night I have been watching this house a lot, and observed multiple cars and people stopping over to check the mail and at times go inside or into the backyard. One time I even watched as an elderly woman drove a ride on lawnmower out of the backyard and mowed the front lawn. I have since concluded that this house is empty, perhaps because the former resident has moved out into a retirement community, and her family and friends are helping get her house ready to sell, checking to make sure any mail sent to her former address gets to her at her new home.

The house on the right hand side is interesting for yet another reason. This house is the smallest of the three, yet it has the most cars in the driveway, and those cars are constantly moving in and out of the driveway all day long, changing positions and places at will. I can be sitting on my bed at 8am or 8pm and pretty much guarantee that I will see at least one car leave or return to this house within a half hour of watching. The vehicles sometimes change from day to day to as I have seen different cars and trucks, mostly American made, hold places in the driveway depending on the day. Some mornings a classic 1970’s era looking sky blue Chevy pays a visit; others a large F-150 pulls in for a while.  I also have seen many people of both genders and varying ages come out of these vehicles, from a guy in his 50’s to a young baby. I have thus concluded that this is the home of  multiple generations of a family, and each person of driving age has at least one vehicle in their possession. They all work different times of the day, accounting for the parking spots being in a constant state of flux.

Well there you have it, call me spy, call me a weirdo, or call me an acute observer. Heck, call me all three. I would be inclined to agree with you. Please note though that I have NEVER used binoculars and NEVER tried to look inside of these people’s homes. I have simply watched what I can see that goes on outside, which in my view is public information on a main street. People interest me, and imagining back-stories is fun. I could of course be totally off; I simply have practiced the art of observation.

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