It’s a good thing I’m a writer because it gives me an excuse for my nosiness.
I’m a snoop.
I don’t sneak around opening medicine cabinets on the sly (I do have some restraint), but I am always on the lookout for little revealing details that give me an insight about people and their personalities.
What’s in someone’s purse or on the front seat of their car can be very revealing indeed.
Today I parked at the gas station and ran inside for a Diet Coke. Of course, I glanced in the front seat of the car beside me. Here were the contents: heavy-duty black and yellow DeWalt tool case, a stack of aerial land photos, and a pair of tan work gloves.
See what I mean? I can make all sort of assumptions just from those three things.
I went inside and store and returned to find a new car in the slot. Casually, I snuck another peeked and saw a laptop, a black canvas rolling bag, a glossy box with one of the multi-syllable names that drug companies are advertising on prime-time television. Can you say drug rep?
It’s kind of addictive, catching a glimpse of a few things and using it to shape a picture of a person.
My experiment holds true for me. Today my front seat had two copies of my books (ready to be donated to my friendly local librarian), a section of the newspaper (saving it because of an interesting article that I might want to blog about), and one of my promotional bookmarks that had fallen to the floorboard. Just screams out writer, doesn’t it?
What parts of a person’s life do you think are most revealing? Their car? Their key chain? Their fridge? Their wallet? Their nightstand? And, if you’re a writer, have bits and pieces of someone’s life that you’ve glimpsed worked their way into your fiction?
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!
Computers. Between Internet histories, IM histories, e-mail, downloaded files, documents, photos, music, spreadsheets, tax files, heck, even emails and files you thought you deleted. All the office suites keep a recent history of documents opened.
Give me an hour on someone’s computer and I can find out all kinds of things.
I have a friend who works for a company that recycles their computers. The recycling company supposedly wipes the hard drives while refurbishing them. My friend received a call from a stranger saying they bought a used computer in an on-line auction and they found a number of personal files that had his name, address and phone number still on the machine. This anonymous person promised to delete the files, but how scary is that?
by Will Bereswill on November 21st, 2007 at 8:19 am
i think this is very true:)LER
by LER on November 21st, 2007 at 8:27 am
That is VERY scary. I know someone who bought a used computer and had the same thing happen. Apparently, it’s really hard to get all that data off. I’ve heard the best way to make sure you don’t leave any info on your hard drive is to basically destroy it yourself!
by Sara on November 21st, 2007 at 8:38 am
Gosh, you mean I can’t go through people’s medicine cabinets anymore?
Computers tell a lot about people, for sure (and there’s a hell of a book in that story, Will!). My car is full of kids drawings and crumpled candy wrappers. Driven by an overweight mother of young children, clearly. No sign that I’m both a writer and a realtor, as well. I keep my life - and my cars - compartmentalized.
Personally, I think bookshelves tell a lot about a person. Whether they’re there or not, what kinds of books are on them. (Some people actually don’t have bookshelves, you know.) Even more so, whether they like the stuff I do, and whether I’ll have something to talk to them about. Whether their tastes are eclectic or they only read one type of thing… But I guess that’s pretty obvious, really.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
by JennieB on November 21st, 2007 at 8:41 am
Bookshelves are a great example, JennieB. So intriguing to see what people are reading. . .
by Sara Rosett on November 21st, 2007 at 9:23 am
I agree with Sara on checking out others bookshelves - always somewhat instructive (how many, what kinds, have they actually been read or just for show - it’s a device in stories because it’s true in life). Many years ago I worked in a store that sold fine home furnishings (china, crystal, silver, giftware, cookware, etc.), and I found myself paying a lot of attention to those things in people’s homes and making assessments about their income, tastes, and even cultural leanings). I still love meeting new people and seeing something particularly fine in their home - call me a snob, but it makes me happy to have a little extra conversation starter like that around.
Hey, the first example you gave of the vehicle with the work gloves and stuff - was it really a car and not a truck? That makes it even more interesting - what kind of car, and why not a truck? Hmmm, I think I see a very cool possiblity there - mind if I run with that?
by Kate Hathway on November 21st, 2007 at 10:18 am
Kate, I don’t remember the kind of car. I was more interested in what was inside! Off to the races for you.
by Sara on November 21st, 2007 at 2:46 pm