Observed Observer

It’s a known fact to avoid a university’s student union as soon as the lunch hour strikes. Like most college students, I sometimes ignore this fact and dare to eat among the bustling, never-ending crowds. I try to justify my decision by bringing a packed lunch, but that only solves half of the problem. Even if I don’t have to wait in a dense line for my food, I still need a table where I can enjoy said homemade lunch. A peculiar method of pouncing and hovering is the strategy that must be used if you want to eat with more than five minutes before your next class. Luckily, on this particular day, I’m able to pounce-hover towards a single table near one of the more popular sections of the union.

Since I chose a solitary lunch, my eyes dart around and look for some form of entertainment besides my overused phone screen. I notice another pair of eyes focused on neither phone nor dining partner at the table next to mine, and my gaze rests on a fellow people-watcher. A small black notebook crouches beneath his furrowed brow down as he hastily translates the surrounding remarks and movements into written words. His eyes seem to catch all that is around him, but have they detected my small glances? I observe him observing others, and I note his movements with the exact precision he is practicing. He is weaving stories while simultaneously being woven. I speculate what he sees in the crowds pressing around us. Characters? Poetry? Prose? Is he fulfilling a class assignment?

Maybe he is planning a blog post. Well, here’s one about him.

I notice his page has quickly filled thanks to the constant flow of hungry students. I detect a sly smile as his glance lingers to the right. We’re the only ones in on the secret. We share the secret of listening, watching, learning. Life goes on all around as we make quick notes in our books. I, too, have become a veiled scribe at this lunch hour. His occupied eyes have yet to see our shared secret. I continue watching him watching them. Inspiration strikes him as he scribbles one last paragraph. Glancing behind his chair then closing his book, he stands and leaves the table. I lose him in the crowd as he becomes part of his field notes.

My trance is broken, and I wonder if anyone is capturing my movements. Did my scribbles and sly glances attract a curious observer as well?

Maybe she is planning a blog post.