It was a ferociously gloomy day in the heart of Center City. The time of the observation was from 11:43 am to 12:43pm. Sandwiched between 15th street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard is the Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building and within the plaza of the building lies Board Game Park. Even in the rain, the park was festive. Upon arriving, it began to drizzle. The drizzle was light enough for me to sit by a statue that was composed of multiple bodies piled on top of one another. The noises heard ranged from rain dropping, to horns honking to people laughing or shouting.
In the surrounding area of the Board Game Park is Love Park with its remarkable LOVE sculpture and fountain, which was spewing pink water in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. City Hall is located directly across the street. Atop of City Hall stands a statue of William Penn, who hauntingly looks upon Philadelphia. Below surrounding his statue are other statues of eagles and Native Americans. Board Game Park has a variety of board game pieces that most of us as children have seen before. Within the plaza, lie statues of over-sized dominoes, chess pieces, Monopoly pieces, as well as Sorry pieces, etc.
Just outside of the plaza is the craftsman Benjamin Franklin statue. Within the short hour of observing people, I saw an array of people and the behaviors they participated in. I expected to encounter peculiar characters while observing at Board Game Park. Since it was raining the day or my observation, I thought I would not see anyone who was interesting but in fact, I did. Observing people in the rain proved to be great idea because it allowed me to distinguish distinctive beings. The first person I noticed was a white male in his late 20s or arly 30s.
He was walking at an ambled pace. He seemed to be middle class due to his clothing and the type of phone he had. The man was dressed in a grey suit that seemed to be well tailored and his shoes paired nicely with his suit. He must have been on his lunch break because I watched him quickly shove down a burger from the McDonalds across from the plaza. While chowing down on his burger, he persistently stared down at his iPhone. While walking from one point of the plaza to another, the man picked up a phone call. In the beginning.
I could not hear what he was talking about him due to being far away, but as he got closer, I heard some snippets. The man was talking about the weather for the upcoming weekend and how it ruined his plans with his lover. The man continued on talking about how he had a weekend adventure planned for more than a month, but with the threats of torrential downpour, he decided to cancel it. He told the person on the line, that he was more “bummed” out because he could not get a refund and how he had saved for more than two months for the event.
His lunch must have been short because the conversation was brief and before I knew it, he was heading back into work. The next person I noticed was a college aged Asian woman who seemed to be middle class as well because of her clothing options. Her hair was slicked into a ponytail and she was wearing a blue and yellow Drexel half-zip hoodie. She was wearing rain boots that had mini penguins on them. Her book bag was just as festive as her boots were. It was multicolored with a variety of pins on it. Even in the rain, the girl was smiling. It seemed that she was happy about all of the memorable game pieces within the plaza.
At first, she seemed puzzled looking around but then pulled out her cell phone that was attached to a selfie stick. The girl began taking a selfie with every single game board piece. She first started at the Sorry Piece, and then made her way to the bingo pieces, then to the dominos. The other people who were in the area looked at her in amusement. I think this was her first time coming to the Board Game Park. This was the most excited I have ever seen someone at this spot. She was in the plaza for a good 20 minutes solely taking photos of herself with these game pieces.
After taking all of her photos, I watched her walk across the street to LOVE Park and disappear into the crowd within the park. The next people I saw within the plaza were a group of young men who were riding around on skateboards. The men ranged from late teens to their late 20’s. The group of men was composed of six people. Three men were black, two men were Hispanic (and twins), and lastly, one man was white. The men seemed to come from different economic statuses. All the men were dressed in dark colors ranging from black to maroon to grey.
Two out of the three black men were wearing hats with their sweatshirt hoodies on top. The other black man within the group had a septum piercing. The twin brothers were wearing the same jackets in different colors. The white man had glasses and a bright red sweater. He was filming the men doing skateboarding tricks. All the men were taking turns doing tricks. They were using the statues as props to improve their tricks. I watched one man grind his skateboard against a bingo piece statue that read B11. He almost completed his trick, but fell off his skateboard and landed on his knees.
While watching the skateboarding men, I also noticed the security guard of the plaza attentively watching them. In the whole time that I watched the group of men and security guard interact, he gave them three warnings. At the last warning I heard one of them yell “he’s calling the cops, RUN! “. All the men took off on their skateboards and disappeared in the crowd city goers. Another person I noticed was a homeless man who was standing under the building shielding himself from the harder raindrops. The man was in his early 50s, was either Asian or Latino, and was a part of the lower socioeconomic class.
He was dressed in thick layers of brown and black clothing. The clothing was dingy, dirty, and barely wearable. He had multiple items piled on one another. His face and hair were dirty and oily and his smell was pungent. Asides from his clothing, the man had two bags that were filled with bottles. The man seemed furious that it was raining and kept on mumbling things to himself. I was observing the man closely because I had seen him in the area before. The rain became harder and harder and as it did, the man kept moving back to avoid getting wetter.
The rain continued to pour down harder for around 10 minutes and as soon it stopped the man began to make his way out of the plaza. The man scurried down 15th street towards the shopping area. Another person I noticed within the hour of observing was a black woman in her early 20s passing through the plaza. The woman seemed to be in the lower to middle socioeconomic class. She had medium to dark brown skin and had her hair out. Her hair was extremely curly and seemed to withstand the rain. Although it was raining, she seemed unbothered by the rain.
She was wearing a grey Obey hoodie with blue jeans and booties. She was wearing little to no makeup. She walked into the plaza from behind me. The woman walked slowly through the plaza towards the Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building. I felt like she moved slowly because the floor had become very slick and she may have not wanted to slip in front of a whole bunch of letting the hard rain droplets hit her. While in the plaza, I saw hundreds of people walking and racing by. The ones that I mentioned within this essay were people who stood out to me merely because of their body languages and style.
There are many things that make us unique and by singling out a person by how they act in the rain, is extremely distinctive because some people like the rain and others despise it. Looking at people from both groups gives you a grasp on how different one person is from another. This observation paper was an eye opening experience. I usually prefer writing papers either about myself, someone I know on a personal level, or about a book. This paper was an experience that I have never encountered before and I feel like it pushed me to be a better writer.
When I as first assigned this essay, I was disappointed because I did not want to observe anybody, especially for an hour. As I began to narrow down places to look, places like the Fairmount Park area near Sedgley Avenue came to mind, as well as the 30th street station. I originally planned to observe at the 15th street station due to its closeness to my house, but instead decided to observe at the Board Game Park, which is located very close by. The many times that I have been in that area, I have seen very peculiar people. I scope people out, but never truly observe them, especially for an hour.
With the hour of observing, I came away with the thought that I truly do not know how these people are. I am merely just drawing conclusions from what they are putting on the outside. I do not know what kind of they live, the things that bring them joy, that bring them sadness, the struggles they encounter, etc. Observing people allows you to use your imagination and sensory skills to paint out a person to whom you want them to be like. By doing so, a person can be as creative when drawing the blank information that you cannot readily get.