Have you ever found the world around you to be strange?
Tiny slices of ordinary life often strike me as being quirky, delightful, or just plain weird. And these everyday strangelings get my brain leaping in new and unusual directions.
Sometimes I adapt them to stories; sometimes they appear as a few handwritten lines in a notebook; sometimes I file them mentally and give them fermentation time — because sometimes they just are, and there is nothing more to do. Yet.
Here is a small selection of noticings I have gathered since the start of this year:
Road signs, 8/01/2017. Those road signs you see throughout Western Australia, particularly in regional areas: “Police are now targeting SPEEDING.” or “Police are now targeting DRUNK DRIVING.” You see them everywhere. But I saw one sign saying simply “Police are now targeting”. Did they forget to finish the sentence? Or could this point to a more ominous outcome, more ominous times?
School fees, 30/01/2017. Why do schools refer to certain payments as “voluntary” or “optional” when it is clear they are neither voluntary nor optional?
Asking questions, 21/02/2017. Many people just don’t ask questions and are uncomfortable with people who do. These people travel through life on the surface, without delving into any aspect deeply. Have these people been traumatised into this way of being, or is it wilful blindness? Are they really living? Are they capable of true compassion without asking about others? Or maybe this is a limitation of mine, to have to ask questions where others can already see.
Shopping interactions as an indicator of age, 10/03/2017. As I get older, the language around me changes, mostly in subtle ways. For example: I walked into a boutique to try on a dress. It was just me and the salesperson in the shop and she insisted I show her once I had it on. I was happy with the fit and pattern in relation to my body shape — but, when I exited the changeroom curtain, the salesperson said, ‘You can get away with that.’ She did not say, ‘The dress looks good on you.’ or ‘Wow!’, which would have also been acceptable. No. I got a reaction that face-slapped me in the same way as my first “ma’am” in my early twenties. Was this reaction a result of my age? I can’t be sure. I wonder if someone has done a study on this, how sales interactions change with the (perceived) age of the clientele, how these interactions affect customer perceptions of self.
Rejection lists, 11/03/2017. As well as a list of acknowledgements, what if short story collections included a list of all the places that rejected each piece prior to publication? I think it would be endearing. A rejection list could be included in novels too, as longer works typically have a rejection or seventy-eight [I’m looking at you, Marlon James!] before being accepted for publication. I would certainly read a list like that, if I found it in a book.
[PS. I have already grown one of these noticings into something more. Can you guess which one?]