Voyeurism, Jerks, and Energy

In my Panera office, I’m as much a voyeur as a writer – though I’m not sure there’s a difference. I witness everything from chattering blind dates to retired couples slurping their soup-of-the-day, not speaking at all. Occasionally I’ll see two people who had no idea they’d serendipitously meet that day, sparks flying. Those are golden moments.

Sometimes they happen to me.

On my travels I meet random strangers either in restaurants, hotel bars, airports, or waiting in line for water. What I notice most is the energy they give off.

It’s the vibes people exude that either attract you or repel you.

I’ve been told there’s something about me that makes people feel comfortable. Sometimes they share their deepest, darkest secrets within moments of meeting me. But every once in a while, I meet a person who makes even “Smiling Jeanne” want to hiss at them.

I have never understood why people would want to impart such negative energy onto a stranger.

Maybe they don’t want to be bothered, or maybe their public veneer has turned into impenetrable armor, or maybe they don’t even realize they are coming across as assholes.

Nah, I bet they do. They just don’t care.

Recently, I met a woman who within five seconds made me want to recoil. Anytime I tried to speak, she either cut me off, or put on the most disinterested look I’ve ever witnessed. I clearly bored her to tears. While she had no enthusiasm for me, if I handed my business card to someone else in the room, she’d quickly interject into the conversation and pass out hers as well. It was all about her.

Luckily, I don’t run into people like this often. But despite my attempts at dodging her jerkitude, she had already ruined my mood. I needed a survival strategy.

I sat back and pretended I was in my Panera office, put my voyeur hat on, and watched her every move. She instantly sized people up, deciding if they were worthy or not. The majority of the time, they weren’t. In between gracing people with her me-me-me conversation, she’d flip her hair and repeatedly put on lip gloss.

She may have been a twit in real life, but she was indeed an interesting character to observe. It was like being at Jerk Zoo.

Fantasies about passing her the link to my “BALLS OF STEEL: First Impressions” article turned my snarl around – mwhaha.

But the lesson that day was mine to learn. Once I pulled away from her bitch rays, I noticed positive energy all around me. The same thing happens when I’m on a flight. Sometimes I’m seated next to a snarly, I-hate-life person, and other times, I meet the most remarkable people who I instantly click with.

It’s people like that who make venturing outside of my writer cave fun. We can chat for hours in-flight, then part, usually never to speak again. But even in that short time, people can have a profound impact on my perspective.

Bottom-line: There’s a power in anonymity. When you put forth welcoming energy, you give people a safe place to spill their thoughts. You can learn the most important lessons from someone else’s life experiences.

So the next time you’re traveling or sitting in a coffee shop, make sure you put forth some great vibes. You’ll be surprised who you can attract… and what you can learn from them.

Every human being I come across will have an opinion of me as I walk away. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the asshole in the room. I want them to walk away thinking, “Man, it was really cool meeting her.”

I’d love to hear stories of people you’ve serendipitously met in your daily life. Share them with us, and we can all learn together.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... Share

16 thoughts on “Voyeurism, Jerks, and Energy

  1. I know the feeling. Plane flight out to Seattle met a lovely woman in the marketing businesses, discussed Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, music, life, and she gave me a high altitude site-seeing tour of Seattle’s natural beauty. Flight home, stuck next to a total crank of man who scowled the whole time, hogged the arm rests and would never make eye contact. Guy had a ipad. Played Angry Birds the whole time. The irony did not escape me.

    Needless to say I plan on using parts of his personality for a character one of these days. I have a shirt that says “Be careful what you say, it may end up in one of my screenplays” The way you act is on my radar as well.

    • You are beautiful, MJ! I’m the same way. Those who know me say, ‘This is off the record.” But even they know nothing ever is off limits in fiction writing — mwhahaha. I say use the A-holes and battle with our words instead of letting them drain our mojo.

  2. Well said, MJ, I was basically going to say the same thing. It’s all grist for the mill. Luckily, Jeanne, people like that seem to be in the minority, although they can certainly have too large an impact! I liked how you turned her into an observable character, have too try that next time.

    • In truth, Rog, I had to detach myself for my sanity. As rude as she was, I was allowing her to suck me into her negativity. Once I took a step back, I could see her more clearly… and see this was her issue, not mine. Plus, an actress would have a blast playing a bitch like that – heehee.

  3. I do this on the subway- there are so many hateful people in New York, and I just sit there and do my best to exude positivity and acceptance. Some of that is selfish — I do it so that other people’s negative vibes don’t sink in. But I also hope that in a sea of faces, a tourist might find my face and think, “Gee, not all New Yorkers are angry and jaded.” (Of course, they might also think, and correctly so, “Gee, she must be from California…”)

    • I live a couple hours north of NYC, but when I go in, I pick up my country pace and hustle about like everyone else. The first time a tourist stopped me and asked for directions, I was flattered, “Wow, they think I’m a NYer!”…. then I took a second thought and panicked that I must be sending off hostile, negative vibes (haha). But in truth, I wasn’t. I was simply walking with confidence. Now that is what I’d like to think of as a real NYer.

  4. Oh, whew! I thought you were talking about me there for a second… until she put on that lip gloss. 😉

    Great column, as always, Jeanne! You are so terrific, that a) she probably seemed a lot worse than she was by comparison and b) you probably shined even brighter by comparison. You can’t be the only person in the room who felt that vibe from her. I bet they were flocking to you (just like they would have anyway) in part, to escape from her. 🙂

    Wise strategy to see her and others like her as grist for the writing mill. Did you take out your little notebook and let her see you making notes as you studied her from across the room? Sounds like great material for a comedy.

  5. Hi Jeanne! Loved this, and I can just imagine what your energy feels like! It’s my bet your awesome-ness overwhelmed her 😉

    I often find myself observing others and how they interact etc. One day in the frozen foods section I saw an old man trying to strike up conversations with busy women who obviously just wanted to get their groceries done. He kept asking which brand of pastry was the best. Most just walked right by like they hadn’t heard him at all. I’ll admit, I was one of them in a hurry and dreading being stopped (I had to be somewhere). But the closer I got to him, the more connected to his energy I felt, and I felt bad for him. So when my turn came I stopped, and I said hello. It turned out that he was from the exact place that I was born (another country) and he was alone. He had lots to share, and in fact had amazing stories to tell and has become a character in one of my screenplays. By taking the time to listen to him I discovered that everyone of those women before me had missed out on meeting a wonderful person. I was changed for the better that day, he showed me what people have to offer if we take the time to listen to them and don’t judge them before we give them a chance. After all, I saw what they did – a creepy old man trying to chat up women. But I’m glad I looked beyond that. I also learned later that I had inadvertently helped him. I saw him a few weeks later and he told me he lost his dog that morning and really needed a shoulder. Serendipity. For sure! I honestly believe we meet people for a reason, whether it be our lesson or theirs, or both.

    Thanks for sharing yourself and your awesome energy with us!! It’s all about spreading the love. 😉 Em xx

  6. jeanne,
    you’re a doll. and it’s true what they say: positive energy attracts positive people! i have always believed in the adage: “hitch your wagon to a star.” YOU, my dear, are certainly a star.

  7. How dare you unfriend me! I just lost my job, went bankrupt, learned I have cancer and my dog died. ;(

    Grin. What spooks me is the idea that personality characteristics that you notice in others are the very ones you cannot accept in yourself…. Shadow side.

    Obviously, I had better shut up cause there is too much I don’t want to face. Makes for good writing. Conflict rocks.

  8. Jeanne!
    I met an amazing screenwriting mentor by having an open, grateful attitude. At the time, we were surrounded by paranoid and self-centered writers like your nemesis, and my positive POV stood out like a billboard. It truly works!
    And congratulations for not paper-cutting her to death with your business cards. 🙂

  9. Right now, I deal with people a lot like her every day. It’s tough to know what to make of it, tough to keep a stiff upper lip and stay strong.

    Meeting vibrant, warm people who stop to listen is a wonderful reminder that those me-me-me-ers are not the norm. Not at all.

  10. Great article – it gave me a lot to think about. I agree with your suggestion that people often don’t even realize how they are coming across, like the blind spots in the Johari window.

    Love your blog! Keep putting out those good vibes.

  11. Like you, I love meeting random people. I met one of my best friends this way close to 20 years ago. I had been to dinner in Santa Monica with another friend and we were strolling the Third Street Promenade when I saw these gorgeous paintings of angels and a young man sitting beside them. To make a long story short, I ended up purchasing one of them and paid for it by check. I asked him what inspired him to paint angels and we had a really interesting conversation. The next day, he called me up and said he noticed from my check that he lived down the street from me. It was obvious to me that needed to reconnect, so I invited him over for tea. Like I said, that was 20 years ago, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. As far as real life being fodder for my writing, well, everyone knows their fair game! Love you much, Sidney

  12. Pingback: Danny Manus, Kittens and Characters - ramblings of a recovered insecureaholic

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.