I’m Not a Spy. I’m a Writer.

Sometimes, I want to turn on my phone’s recorder and secretly document the conversations going on around me. I haven’t (yet), but sometimes, the conversations or characters are so good that it’s really hard to resist. I want to remember this person’s accent, that person’s speech patterns – or just the people in general.

To give you an idea of the conversations that tempt me, here are some examples (yes, these really happened):

1. Two older men (50s plus) arguing about the legalization of marijuana at a bar (1 for, 1 against). The part I remember best went something like this (paraphrased).

            A: That makes sense to me.
            B: Of course it does! It’s your theory!

2. A conversation overheard by a friend of mine on an elevator. It was between an elderly couple:

            Husband: [to his wife] Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out, who
            was left? [Silence] Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out, who was
            left? [Silence] Pete and Repeat-
            Wife: -If you don’t stop with that crap, I’m going to poke you in the eye.

3. A couple of twenty-some year olds discussing the particulars of iron maiden – the torture device, not the band.

4. A beggar on the street singing to people about politics. He must’ve sung to at least twenty people to vote for a specific person: “If you’re wearing a green sweater, vote for —.” “If you have a roller suitcase, vote for —.”

I won’t say you can’t make this sh*t up, but why bother when it’s happening all around you? People are crazy and amusing and interesting (and horrifying and disgusting). You never know what they’re going to say or do. Or even what types of characters you’re going to meet. If you’re looking for inspiration, that’s where I’d look first.

That’s why I find myself wanting to record snippets of people to better milk them for my writing later. So far, I’ve resisted (since it’s fairly creepy and quite possibly illegal), but I will admit I’ve taken written notes and written down more than my fair share of quotes. With a goldmine like that, can you blame me?

 What about you? Do you have any good ones to share?

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