The most important rule is that there are no rules. Take every rule and mold it to your individual interests. Reader discretion is advised.
#1: there are no rules. Don’t follow anyone’s formula for people watching. It takes the fun away if you do!
#2: because there are no rules, if you are at Café 153 and realize those fresh-baked cookies look particularly appetizing, dig in (but pay for it first). It may only be people watching, but it still requires a certain measure of sustenance.
#3: bring an Ipod and earphones. Every people watching expedition requires a jam. Listen to your own jam. If “What the Hell” by Avril Lavigne gets you in your groove, don’t be ashamed that the music isn’t more “mood” oriented. You aren’t taking a nap and you aren’t studying. Listen to what you like. But, don’t feel pressured to stick to one jam for the entire session. If you switch to the Avett Brothers near the end because you decide people are boring and you’d rather watch the clouds, feel free.
#4: judge everybody. If I told you not to judge, you wouldn’t be able to abide by that rule. Just go ahead and be judgmental. Roll your eyes when the girlfriend of the hot guy sitting across from you finally shows up (don’t pretend you didn’t pick your seat on purpose and suddenly feel like the seat may just have lost its appeal about the same time as said guy decides to follow his GF to Anthropology). This brings me to rule #5.
#5: wear sunglasses. This isn’t just to shield your eyes from the sun. This is so you can stare at people without them really knowing you are looking at them. It also gives you a split second longer to look away when you feel like they’re on to you. The Sunglass Spy skills are hard to hone, but I feel certain you will be an expert by the end of your expedition.
#6: bring sunscreen. This is the most practical rule, but one I’d suggest you follow above all other rules. It’s especially important if you have been cooped indoors for 8 months of winter and are seeing the sun for the first time in the spring. 2 hours can do some serious work to your skin. Then again, don’t follow this rule. It wouldn’t be an adventure without battle scars.
#7: don’t worry about what people are thinking of you. More than likely they are judging you the same way you are judging them, so we all win at this game. They are going to judge you anyway for just sitting there by yourself, with you purse, your Ipod, you water, your latté, your cookie, your giant notebook, and your pen. They are going to think you are creepy for looking at them and more creepy because you are taking notes in your notebook and, yes, you are writing about them and how silly they look. Just embrace the fact that you look strange, and make attempts to look stranger by dancing and singing to your music. Give them something to laugh about with their friends when they get home.
#8: Make your own rules! Don’t follow mine. Remember, there are no rules. I’m serious. Now get out there and watch people.