Overhearing conversations and people watching - the most endearing and intriguing way of breaking the boundaries of personal privacy in a public space. I won't go into the ins and outs of how much privacy we actually have in public spaces, or my thoughts about people watching in the first place. But I shall share a conversation I passed by yesterday whilst in the supermarket. It's not the act of people watching, but it's usually about the impact it has on us as human beings.
As I roamed the aisles of my local Sainsbury's having absolutely forgotten what I went there for in the first place, I witnessed a conversation between a young employee and his boss. He politely asked her for the time, to which his boss sharply replied 'it's not twelve yet. You finish at twelve. You can leave when 'X' comes onto the shop floor. Go on the tills until then.' It was 11.54am. The boy had six minutes left of his shift, and I suspect he was asking for the time because he was tired and hungry and simply didn't know if he had two hours left or two minutes. A rather reasonable question, which didn't require such a response, and alternatively his boss could have just chosen to give the answer to his question.
I just felt for him. I held back from what I really wanted to do, which was to give him the time and smile. Instead I just stood there, picked up my fabric conditioner, and made my way to the tillpoint to pay. But on my walk back home I firstly felt thankful that I work in a career where I don't have to accept such treatment, and secondly I thought that it really shouldn't even have to be that way. I shouldn't have to feel grateful because I'm not disrespected. Respect is a basic attitude of humanity. It's the way we think and feel and communicate with others. My life and my outlook is based on a fundamental principle of respect for others (and myself)... I guess it comes down to our own expectations and the way in which they differ to the expectations and values of others. It seems so simple, yet time after time I'm proven that it's not so simple at all. The way we treat others isn't necessarily the way they treat us. In its most simple form, that's because we are all different - which usually means that we live in a curiously wonderful and absorbing world. But in instances like this, it means that alongside the good and the beautiful, we suffer too.