Activity 3A: Observe and record
In this activity I have decide to watch the people of Dundee passing through the Overgate shopping centre. I decided this as I walk through it most days to protect myself from the elements as I walk to university. I use the space more as a walk through than a shopping centre only stopping if something catch’s my eye in a shop window which is not very often as being a student I don’t have the money to buy anything. So I decide to take this location as my place to watch the general public.
I took up residence on a bench for an afternoon between 4pm and 4.45pm as at this time you would get more of a divest group of people passing. Right away as I m
ade myself comfortable to gain my incite into other peoples behavior. I noticed a toddler defying its mother, as she put the toddler down, the toddler ran off into a shop, the mother then retrieved the toddler, then tried to walk away so the toddler could follow but instead the toddler about turned and ran off to in the opposite direction causing the mother to chase after the toddler. I found this amusing but at the same time was concerned for the toddler’s safety. This made me wonder does the toddler understand the danger that they have put them self in? I then continued to watch as no one stopped the toddler and the security guard’s watched as the mother chased after her child. Why did no one stop the toddler? Is this caused by the society we live in, as the minute you get involved in a situation like this you can be miscalled or even accused of something that was never your intention? The mother eventually got hold of the toddler and continued to carry the toddler till they were out of sight.
I then started to notice the many different groups of people passing me. To begin with I thought there was only 4 or 5 different groups, starting with the school kids, the families, the students and the office workers, but then I noticed each group broke down even more. All these groups have what I would call loners, these are just people that were by themselves. These people mainly walked very fast, clearly had a destination, they were trying to reach in top speed with nothing getting in their way! Also most had earphones in or were talking on the phone, very few of them were have a gentle stroll through the Overgate. These people were also more likely to move about more to pick the quickest path through the crowd and would change course often.
Next I noticed the school kids. I know this must be the most complicated of all the groups, as there are so many different social groups at school like the Plastics, the Ya’s, the Neds, the Freaks, the Geeks, and the Indy, or these were the groups that existed at my high school and I have noticed maybe a more up to date version of these groups passing me by while observing the Overgate. These groups were then broken up even more by the school they attended. The Schools are identified by there uniform they are wearing. In Dundee it also identifies what kind of background you are from, as a large amount of these children are wearing Dundee High School uniforms, showing their from middle to upper class background, as this is the local private school. As I was observing, none of the school kids from different school’s seemed to mix. I am not sure of local rivalry, but the Overgate seemed to be common ground for a mixture of groups.
I also noticed there was a large group of younger people just moving about the Overgate. These younger people would be between the age of 17 to 23 and they moved in large groups. These groups I would class as Neds and all they seem to do is walk up and down the Overgate not entering shops just talking to people they know, not causing trouble but are very intimidating. They sat at the bench up from me and I was more self conscious about whether they were watching me and whether they going to come over to me as I must of looked strange taken notes about people walking past.
There were also a large number of professional middle age women walking through the Overgate. They seem to be the people that were actually shopping as they were carrying shopping bags and are the group of people that still have a little extra cash to spend. They seem to be a little less on a mission than the loners but still know the shops they want to visit, as these are the shops they visit every time they shop. I know this, as my mum is one of these professional women shoppers. She knows where she wants to go and what she wants to look at and often attends the shops on her own.
Then there is the Family group; this group splits into many different sectors. This group is maybe one of the most noticeable as the parents watch there child’s every move as they pass through the space making sure their child is safe and behaving, but some times you do get the parents that don’t really care and the child is left to run riot through shopping centre causing a scene. These types of family’s often cause a scene with the parents screaming at the child cause everyone to stop what they are doing and stare. I even do this when I am walking past these scenes unfold. I normally have my I pod in so I will take out my head phones to get a good listen to what is unfolding. I love watching this kind of drama sometimes, as it’s better than the television.
The last group I am going to write about is the old people; this group is the strangest off them all. This group never get anywhere very fast and believe they have the right to be the first everywhere and most of the time get in the way of the people who are trying to get somewhere fast which cause’s them to get frustrated. They also stop in the most inconvenient places to talk or just have a little look around themselves, maybe to remind themselves where they are? This group of people are my biggest frustration, I can feel myself getting angry at these people but you cant say or do anything about them as there old.
While I was sitting watching the people passing by I started to think about the environment and the how people were using space. I noticed right away that everyone used the walkways as a passage to reach their destination. The thing I did noticed as one side is lined with shops and the other with glass the shoppers seemed to stick to the shops side and the people that were using the Overgate as a pass through, stuck to the side of the glass wall. Is this so these pass through people wont have the shoppers get in their way while they enter and exit shops. I also noticed an entrance and exit to the centre just down from me, which acted like a walk through across the flow of shoppers. This caused trouble when someone wanted to enter and cross over the flow of traffic to exit from the opposite exit. This crossing over the flow made people uncomfortable and you can see as they enter, trying to work out their safe passage through the flow of shoppers walking in other direction. The shoppers also seemed to follow the patterns on the floor tiles, there are shapes and different colored tiles used on the floor, I noticed while sitting on the bench that everyone stuck to walking on the cream tiles and barely anyone would cross the red garnet line which the benches were situated on unless they planned on sitting on them. Then if someone did sit on the bench I found they would sit at the opposite side from me, as if I had a bad smell coming from me so, they had to sit as far away from me as possible. This on the other hand was good thing, as I did not want anyone sitting next to me. I don’t like people being in my personal space, I find it uncomfortable to have strangers sitting so close to me, this is one of the reasons I refuse to get on a bus, as random people are always invading your personal space, with them practically sitting on top of you. So in public spaces like the Overgate it is an unwritten rule not to sit next to someone. If there is one space and it’s going to force you sit next to someone, move to the next beach or stand and wait. This sounds strange but who really wants a stranger in their personal space? Definitely not me! The only groups of people that don’t seem to follow these rules are the old people. They seem to think its their right to sit wherever they wish even if someone is already sitting there they will give you a look so you will move to give them the space. Due to the hug gap in ages between the younger populations and ever increasing elderly populations, there is a huge difference in thought as they were brought up to be seen and not heard, but we have been raised to question authority and it is this clash of opinions that cause’s the trouble between these groups, I am biased towards this situation as I am part the younger generation and have experienced the rudeness of this elderly generation.
This leads me on to security, in the Overgate centre you are away of the presents of security guards, these guards are there for your safety and also to help the shops stop shoplifters, but while I am sitting taking my notes one was continuously looking over my shoulder, they seemed be watch me like I was some kind of shoplifter which made me feel uncomfortable. The other sense of security you gain from the Overgate is the protections from the elements. As you walk through the centre you have the feeling you are outdoors this is due to the glass wall that gives the view over the Steeple church, but people don’t treat it as outdoors as they don’t drop litter but put it in the bin, what difference is the Overgate from the street? It’s just an indoor street, is it the authority figure of the security guards? But then there is the police, are they not a big enough figure on the street? Maybe the council should invest in security guards to stop people dropping litter.
From my short 45 minutes sitting on a bench in the Overgate watching the general public I learned about a lot of different rules that are just common etiquette these days in any public place. This has also opened my eyes to how much goes on within a public space and how we treat enclosed public spaces differently to open public spaces.