I've always been a fan of people watching.
Not in a stalker kind of way, but rather in a humorous, waiting-for-others-to-fail kind of way.
My experiences have consisted of being in the dining halls watching someone sit at a table surrounded by others— but somehow enthralled while listening to Korn — and hanging in the Peddrew-Yates archway my freshman year during snowy winter nights and cheering when people ate it down the death trap stairs by D2.
I've always enjoyed the sport of sitting back and seeing how others operate. I’ve found however that the most satisfying place to people watch is in class.
We’ve all been there before. There's the shady looking guy sitting by the door, tense, waiting patiently for the professor to break in their talking, and he starts to get up. Then he sits back down when the steely eyes of a sixty-year-old business scholar scans his side of the room. He tenses again, then, as quietly as possible, grabs his bag and whisks out the door and off to Owens to beat the lunch rush or home for a rewarding mid-morning nap.
Sadly, I know I’ve been the watchee rather than the watcher before. The most embarrassing moment of my life happened in front of 11 classmates and my elderly humanities professor.
I’m not proud of what happened, and it remains a story of constant amusement among my roommates and close friends. It was a late afternoon class — the kind no one really wants to be in — on a Wednesday, when the subject matter is significantly less than stimulating. It’s not unusual for your eyes to begin to feel heavy and start to slip down.
Unfortunately, on this day I was feeling a bit… well, gassy. I knew falling asleep would be a bad move. But once your eyes are already on the way south and there’s no caffeine around, there’s no stopping it. I fought it off for as long as I could, but eventually I lost the battle and fell soundly asleep at my desk in the middle of the room.
It could’ve been one minute or it could have been forty — I’ll never know. I remember very clearly however, the exact moment I woke up. A sound like that of ripping paper awakened me from my slumber. My eyes shot open, but I managed to keep my head very still, leaning on my hand, not moving my body at all. Though I acted quickly and kept up the front of being sleepy and uninterested, I felt my face become warm and red.
The professor paused briefly from her lecture on Japanese religious beliefs, and my eyes met my roommate Jackson who, fortunately or not, sat next to me in this class. He gave me a quizzical look and mouthed the words, “Did you just fart?”
I nonchalantly shook my head no and lazily pointed to my shoe. Satisfied, he returned to taking his notes. My eyes weren’t heavy the rest of class, my heart pounding beneath my shirt. As class ended I shot out the door, happy to be away from the eyes of my judging peers, and swore to myself that never again would I fall asleep in class.
Though that promise has been broken since, I have continued to be an avid people-watcher — and watchee. I encourage you, whether you’re an average people-watcher or not, to take a stab at it and see what you can see.
I promise you’ll laugh, chuckle and at the very least, be much more wary of falling asleep in class.