Writers, you know who you are... I know you do this, and if you don't, you really really should.
I like to go sit and hang out places sometimes just to watch people and take notes on human interactions, etc.
I pay attention at work too, and have noticed people truly ignore the waitstaff, or those cleaning around them. They don't exist, and conversations continue on as though nobody is there at all. I overhear some fun snatches of conversation sometimes.
I like to think this correlates over to stories involving actual servants, pretty solidly. They knew a lot, and overheard a lot, because the people who they worked for felt they were SO far beneath THEM, they weren't there at all.
There are exceptions now, just like there would be then, too, of course. Some tables fall silent as you pass.
If you DO people-watch, but don't write any of it down, start taking notes! You'll be surprised how much you can use later!
- The woman waiting for someone to arrive in the restaurant.
- The man waiting alone for his date to return from the bathroom, sitting awkwardly.
- The kid with a notebook who is clearly people watching or writing his own story, but puts it away when his friends get there, and his whole demeanor changes with them...
- The very thin woman eating alone, making herself chew and swallow each bite, as though it is its own battle in the great war.
- The girl in awesome bohemian-looking clothing. Walking hand in hand with a goth guy.
- The waitress who runs, jumps up and hugs her boyfriend/husband when he arrives with flowers, just because.
Really, each little thing can create is own scene or story. It's good to have them to fall back on when you get stuck in your bigger work! :) Or if you need inspiration to start something new.
Sometimes I take it beyond that and make it a little game. What happens next? Why? And then I watch how it actually plays out and take notes on that too. Human beings are fascinating, and we definitely don't always react the way one might think! It's good to take notes, on everything, (even half formed ideas you have while half asleep!) because you never know when you're going to need them!
SO! Keep a notebook with you at all times! Use a note application in your phone! Text yourself if you have to. If you work as a cashier of any kind, pull up receipt paper when it's quiet and scrawl it down really fast so you don't forget. But for the love of all that is holy, TAKE NOTES!!!
That is all.