The young man stood in front of a darkened window, smoothed back his hair, and adjusted his necktie. He turned away, glanced at his designer wristwatch, and leaned against the wall.
While waiting for Jorge to get fitted for a new pair of shoes on Tuesday, I had relaxed into observing passing shoppers in the mall. The preening young man had caught my eye because of the impeccable way he was dressed. These days, most men and women dress very casually in street clothes.
I wondered why he was dressed so perfectly. He showed no signs of self-conscious shyness, even though he was clearly the best-dressed man in the entire mall. Then the young man adjusted his shoulders back and straightened his posture. He glanced back at his reflection in the dark window and placed his left hand in his trouser pocket.
Next he lifted his head a bit higher, and began smiling and removed his hand from the pocket. He walked towards an equally well-dressed older man. They shook hands and walked together to the exit doors and departed.
Jorge had been observing me observing the gentleman in the mall while my friend waited for the shoe salesman to get some shoes from the store’s back room. “What do you think about that dapper pair? Too bad for you that both of them are spoken for.”
I smiled at Jorge’s little joke. “I think they’re meeting to discuss business or they’re going to someone’s wedding.”
Jorge laughed, “or their own wedding.”
The salesman returned with two shoe boxes. Then Jorge adjusted his attention back to shoe-buying mode. I turned my attention to the mall again for more people watching entertainment.
The parade of shoppers betrayed their emotions by the manner they walked, the expressions on their faces, and their clothing choices. If they were in groups, you could figure out who was the dominant person or leader and who was subordinate just by their body language.
A teen-aged girl was seated on one of the mall’s benches. She had her arms crossed, her head tilted upwards, and a frown on her face. An older woman, probably the girl’s mother, was telling the girl something. I guessed that the girl was being reprimanded for some sort of wrong-doing. The scene was unpleasant, so I averted my gaze.
An elderly gentleman ambled into my field of vision. He was dressed in blue jeans and wore a white tee-shirt emblazoned with “Cancun” and a stylized picture of the Sun. On his left wrist was a black plastic fitness monitor. On his feet were pure white, chunky walking shoes. The old fellow was obviously a “mall walker” out for his daily constitutional.
Back in the store, Jorge had decided on a pair of grey and red sneakers from an Australian brand I’ve never heard of. Jorge slipped his credit card into the checkout counter’s reader. Jorge and the salesman smiled at each other while the credit card was being verified. Judging by both men’s “open” posture and friendly smiles, the sales transaction was mutually satisfactory. Jorge picked up the shoe box that now contained his old shoes, then marched with me into the mall.
I decided to buy us lunch, so we strolled towards the food court to have some Chinese stir-fry. Jorge joked that we should have a race so he could test his new sneakers. I shook my head, “no” and laughed.
Our outing had turned out well for both of us. Jorge scored a pair of comfortable shoes, and I had fun enjoying the “sport” of people watching.
It’s amazing how much we can learn about people simply by observing what they’re saying beyond words.