Have you ever watched someone performing a basic task and wondered why you don’t do it the same way?
I’ve just witnessed, from the corner of my eye, someone brushing their teeth. The fact they are brushing their teeth at work isn’t the issue here, although I have to commend them on their commitment to maintaining their exemplary dental hygiene even if it is a LITTLE bit weird to have brought in an electric toothbrush, floss and mouthwash. Instead I’m wondering why he was brushing his teeth the way he was, in particular, and this is all based on a couple of glances as I’m not in the habit of staring at men when they are in the bathroom regardless of what activity they are performing, the way he was brushing his front teeth. The front of his front teeth to be precise.
Gums bared in a grimace, teeth locked together he scrubbed vigorously back and forth, up and down, back and forth, all with the electric toothbrush whirring away as well. Most odd. I think.
Like most people my parents taught me how to brush my teeth. At least I presume they did for I have no recollection of the event itself. I’m not sure why I brush my teeth the way I do but it’s certainly come from them. Since buying an electric toothbrush I may have become lazy, but I thought the entire purpose of buying a “machine” was that it would do all the work? Or is it just me?? Maybe it is down to how you were taught to do something.
Same goes for, say, tying your shoelaces. Most of us will use the same ‘bow’ knot and probably approach the task in the same (similar) way but, the world being what it is, some of the more contrary people will do it differently (you know, the lefties of the world, they are all only pretending you know, to try and be different..). Now I did go through a spell, as a surly teenager trying to find my niche in the world, of deliberately doing things differently. Tying my shoelaces so the knot was on the inside of my foot instead of square on the top, for example. Ahhh yes, I was a rebellious sole (geddit) with a moderate and non-confrontational outlook, quite a hard balance to maintain that one.
Watching people (people watching if you will) is hugely fun, indeed my new wife (as she was then) and I spent a merry day on our honeymoon, sitting out under the awnings of a Spanish cafe, watching people dodge the rain and go about their daily business. We watched the people sitting around us, and watched on as the afternoon progressed, the rain faded and the tourists returned to saunter along the shopfronts, meandering through the puddles.
But watching someone up close, doing something as basic as brushing their teeth is entirely different. With the distance removed you are aware of your own influence on the situation, the fact they have slowed down perhaps, the brushing less vigorous, their head swivelling slightly in your direction..
“Yschh? Cunn ahhh hep ooo?”
You flush in embarassment, point out that they’ve dribbled toothpaste on their tie, and leave quickly. But you still pause at the door to look back as the buzzing of the toothbrush returns.