Minimalism and the never-ending ‘how are you?’

So, you’ve got a day to yourself and you’ve got a little bit of money in your back pocket. You decide to go shopping and pick up some new clothes, because let’s face it – even the best stocked wardrobe needs to be freshened up every now and then.

You walk into one of those kind of sleek clothes shops that have more mannequins than clothing lines – you know the type I mean, right? The sort of uber-white, brightly lit joint that’s so minimally minimalist you almost think you’ve accidentally walked into an empty lot.

As you enter a sales assistant walks past you – stopping briefly to assess you. They work out your social stature, your waist size and whether or not you fit in with their pre-programmed ideals of what looks best for the brand.

“Hi, how are you?” they sing out cheerfully, a couple of coat-hangers strung over each shoulder – the attached garments billowing out in their wake like a cape. A superhero for the well dressed minimalist capitalist consumer.

So, what do you say? I mean you’re not going to open up your deepest, darkest fears to a stranger are you? Well, you might. But most likely you’ll just say “I’m good” and then go about your day…staying perhaps a couple more minutes before you decide that a white t-shirt with a full stop in the middle isn’t going to make you look as cool as the person you want to be.

But do you know what I always say?

I always say, “I’m good thank you, how are you?”

And do you know what they say? Nothing. They’ve already walked past and gone back to their day – forever leaving me hanging.

Not just clothing shops, but all sorts of stores, restaurants and even bars. I’m always left wondering how they are and how their day is going.

Why do I ask? Why do I care?

Because I feel that, as a writer, I need to be in tune with other people…I need to be interested in other people.

Because that’s where the true stories lie – the beauty of observation is that it’s so easy! There are great characters all around us, with great perspectives and feelings – but if we don’t take any notice of them, we’re losing free research. A free chance to craft and calculate new characters.

It’s a well-known fact that many authors base characters on people they’ve known – because the best characters tend to originally be born of flesh and blood – not from the factories of the creative mind. Or, at least not fully.

So, open your eyes/ears and ask someone how they are.

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