I tend to eavesdrop. Awful, I know. It gets worse. I have been known to scoot my chair closer and take notes. The best places are shops, coffee shops and auto repair places. I listen to people on the phone, people in conversation, people on loudspeakers, people at the grocery store. It is a terrible habit and as I often do it when I am not wearing my glasses and cannot really see, I am sure I get caught out regularly and just do not realize it.
Trouble is that it is seriously helpful stuff. It makes writing dialogue, characters, shoes, bicycles, pets, names, hats, and hobbies easier and more grounded, more real and more fun. Often the things I hear are far better than anything I could make up...
Yesterday at the drugstore:
Six foot woman in line: "I look like a gecko when I wear v necks."
Her five foot eight husband: "Yes, but I like geckos."
At the bookstore:
A tourist lady in electric pink Aloha shirt: "Poofball is getting even poofier."
Her friend in matching electric pink Aloha shirt: "At least she is not as big as Sludge."
Poofball and Sludge? Amazing.
At a concert last night:
Thirty-something year old mom: "He is cute, but just in the way King Kong is cute."