I had an early morning appointment with my dental hygienist last week. I arrived shortly before the 8.30am deadline. Maybe I spent 10 to 15 minutes in the waiting room before I was called.
Have you ever noticed if you are taken away from your morning routine and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings how you are more inclined to observe what’s happening around you?
The dental clinic’s waiting room faces out on to the street which is on a main thoroughfare, approximately three kilometres from Dublin’s O’Connell Bridge.
It’s a busy street, and it was morning commuter rush hour time. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper and people were walking in all directions.
I was sitting at the window, literally watching life go by.
A van had pulled up outside a Spar shop and was making a morning delivery. A large sized man was manipulating a trolley on the ramp of the van. It all looked so easy to do. But I remember once standing on one of those ramps on the back of a van and being scared of my life. This man was doing it with such facility, it all looked so easy. Practice makes perfect.
As he was manipulating the trolley on to the footpath a young woman passed with a boy. He was probably 10 or 11 and I presume the woman was his mother. Obviously she was bringing him to school. Both of them were laughing as he skipped along, wildly gesticulating with his hands. The two of them were in deep conversation.
And as they talked and laughed a young man got off his bicycle and locked it to a lamppost. It was an expensive bicycle and he was making sure a thief would have difficulty trying to steal it. Bicycle locked, off he went about his business.
It was fascinating watching them all live that moment in their daily lives. They were in that magic space of normality, getting on with their lives. And guess what, from my vantage point it looked charming and wonderful. Imagine if my window were in Mariupol or Kharkiv, or indeed, anywhere in Ukraine. The glass might be gone from the window frame and I can’t imagine the people I was looking down on would be as relaxed and as oblivious to their surroundings as they were that morning I was observing them.
My 10/15 minute looking down on the street reminded me of aspects of the famous Alfred Hitchcock 1954 film ‘Rear Window’. It is considered by many critics as one of his best films and indeed one of the best films ever made. It’s about a professional photographer, who was recovering from a broken leg. Confined to a wheelchair he spends much of his time looking out on to a busy courtyard from his Manhattan window. One night he hears a woman screaming. It turns into a mystery murder story.
My morning of observing proved nothing as exciting or as dangerous as the Hitchcock film. But I was fascinated watching people simply getting on with their lives. They all looked decent people, indeed, I’d go as far saying, they looked relatively content, indeed happy.