Deep Observation Assignment: Eleven Examples

The Woman with the Purple Mat

Heather Brackman

Light blond hair tightly twisted in a bun on the top of her head, Hadley carefully eased herself onto the gray plastic bench that connected to the side of the car. Sliding her tote bag to rest on her lap, Hadley pushed a rolled up purple yoga mat between her legs. She crossed her ankles, tightening her knees on either side of the foam, and pulled a pair of white earbuds out of a small pocket on the outside of her bag. The fluorescent lights of the subway car irritated her still sleepy brain and she slowly shut her eyes. Until her phone made a ping noise. Jolting her head up from resting on the wall, Hadley was quickly mesmerized by the message on her phone. Hadley’s fingers furiously punched the screen of her device then paused. This man hadn’t even waited an hour to text her. A smile crept onto Hadley’s face and she recalled the off balance, barely flexible Mark who had insisted on coming to yoga with her.

They had met when he stole her coffee off the counter a few weeks back at a Starbucks and took it as his own, even though Hadley was clearly written across the white paper cup. On edge from her lack of caffeine, Hadley tapped him on his gray suit covered shoulder.

“Excuse me, sir,” she snapped. “I’m running really late and you took my coffee, see?” She forcefully pointed her finger at her cup, hoping her glare would be enough to get the liquid addiction in her hand. Hadley’s sneakered covered foot tapped with agitation as she awaited his response. Her tote slowly started to slip off her shoulder.

“Oh, you are so right.” He smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkled. Hadley huffed in frustration. She raised her eyebrows.

“Wow, sorry.” He sensed her irritation. “I already put some extra cream in here. But you can have mine if you want.” He suggested, raising his voice at the end. “Just wait here, I’ll go get it.” Hadley pulled out her phone to check the time. She was going to miss the first part of class.

“Here you go,” The man handed Hadley an identical cup to his. He grabbed his coffee and started to head towards the door. “Let me know how I can make it up to you,” he yelled over his shoulder. Left by herself, Hadley looked down at her cup where the name Mark was scribbled. But Mark wasn’t the only thing written on the cup.

Hadley waited a few days before texting him, but eventually she told Mark that the only way he could make it up to her was to buy her another coffee and accompany her to the same yoga class that he made her miss. Now, as Hadley stepped off the subway, she hit the send button, replying to Mark. Her loosely fitted purple long sleeved shirt slid off one shoulder and barely protected her skin against the chilled air that blew down onto her as she walked up the stairs to the street. Crossing her arms, Hadley briskly walked towards 30th street then took a sharp left, letting her bun out. Loose curls bounced to her shoulders. Opening a worn down, rusted metal door, Hadley stepped inside and ran up to her one bedroom studio. She had a date to get ready for.

Discussion Questions

  • Why would somebody want to read this piece (the “Who cares?” factor)?
  • Can you clearly identify the author’s intention for the piece?
  • How well does the author support the intention of the piece? Cite specific details that support or take away from the author’s intention.
  • Is there information missing from this piece that would make its intention clearer? What else would you like to know?
  • Does the author portray herself as a round character? How does she do this?
  • Do you trust the author of this piece? Why or why not?
  • How clearly does the author establish a sense of setting/space in this piece? Cite specific details that support your claim.
  • How clearly does the author establish characters other than the self in this piece? Cite specific details that support your claim.
  • Did you learn anything new from reading this piece? If so, what?
  • Are there particular passages with engaging language/description that stood out to you? Describe the appeal of these passages.
  • Would you read more writing from this author? Why or why not?

 

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