I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’m chugging along with my daily writing. Again, I’ve missed a couple of days, but I’ve made up the word count on the days I have been writing. Some days I write new stuff. Other days, crappy stuff. Sometimes, I work on existing projects: my newsletter for my freelance writing services, my memoir. (Have I told you I’m working on this?)
Here’s an excerpt from this week:
One of my favorite games to play when I’m out and about running errands is “Make a Character.” It’s a game of solitaire and one that resides only in my imagination. It works like this: you notice a person. Perhaps it’s a store clerk. A customer counting pennies out of their wallet to pay. Or maybe a man in head-to-toe spandex riding his bicycle down a busy suburban street.
Pick your person. Now, create their character. This isn’t mean. You’re not doing this to make fun of them. Look for clues. Rings. How their shirt is tucked in, if it is at all. Their shoes. The way they pronounce their words. How they use their hands to talk.
Here’s an example. Yesterday, I went to the post office to mail an oversize envelope. I stood in line because I didn’t want the envelope to be bent and using the self-serve postage machine would have required me to dump it into a bin and who knows what would be dumped in after mine?
Ahead of me was an older woman. Despite only seeing her back, I could tell by her posture and voice. She waved around a $100 bill asking for as many stamps as it would buy. The clerk asked her what design she wanted. She didn’t know, even after he pointed to a bulletin board where the different designs were displayed. Finally, she asked for “just the regular stamps.” Flags. She asked how many 3 sheets would be. He tilted his head, calculating, and came up with “28 dollars and some change.” She said okay, but then asked the price again. He clarified his answer, seemingly now that he had time to complete the calculation, “28 dollars and 20 cents.” The woman told him to give her 3 more sheets and then paid.
My character wasn’t the woman, but the clerk, Dave. His patience. Although, I’ve noticed that postal employees behind the counter at the post office tend to be the most patient people I’ve ever met. His patience paired with his mental calculations. There was a glimmer of joy and pleasure in being given an opportunity to show off his math skills.
He had blond hair, natural. Which is unusual for a man because as women have learned a long time ago, natural blond hair is quite rare. It’s even more rare for men because they tend to not dye their hair.