Have you ever people watched, while you sat in a restaurant enjoying a meal? Did you notice the single mom that looked like she could use an extra hand because her little darlings were all over the place? Or did you notice the student in the corner so desperately trying to finish a paper before midnight? Did you also notice that someone is struggling to scrape together nickels, dimes or even pennies just so that they could put something warm in their stomach?
New York Times Best-Selling Author, Andy Andrews, makes us sit up and pay attention to our surroundings, more than usual. In his novel, The Noticer, he introduces the reader to an old man by the name of Jones. Not Mr. Jones, just Jones. As the story unfolds we learn that Jones is no ordinary character. He can appear when least expected and out of nowhere. Andrews begins to take the reader on a stroll down a path that will have you second guess not only your comments and thoughts, but your actions as well.
This is no ordinary story and no ordinary man. Jones was on a mission to get people to notice things, or should I say view things in a different perspective. He first encountered a young boy who had lost both of his parents, and likewise, was losing his grip on life. Jones had been watching Andy for some time now and was concerned about the path he was choosing. When he first introduced himself Andy was living on the beach and was homeless. When approached Andy was ready to put his hands up to defend himself. He thought Jones was there to rob him. Jones smiled and joked about how old he was and how young Andy was and that Andy probably could take him. He assured him that he was not there to rob him.
Jones began to ask Andy questions, and in the mist of his questions Jones asked Andy does he read? Andy looked at him unamused and replied “I read magazines.” With that Jones was delighted and reached into his suitcase and pulled out books. He passed the books to Andy one by one: Winston Churchill, Will Rogers, and George Washington Carver.
At that time, Andy realized that Jones had given him history books. When Andy looked up from the books, Jones explained that they were not only history books, they were stories about adventures. He also said, “Experience is not the best teacher. Other people’s experience is the best teacher. By reading about the lives of great people you can unlock the secrets to what made them great.”
That very same night Andy couldn’t put the book Winston Churchill down. He was amazed! After finishing the third book, Andy had a different outlook on life. He was finally understanding what the old man was saying. By reading about great people, he understood that there were things in his life he had to change…a different perspective.
Jones continued down the path of noticing things and people, who were in desperate need of a different perspective on life. For example, the couple that was on the verge of divorcing, Jones shows up and talks with them about how they can make things better. Asking questions such as how do you convey love? Is it spoken words of approval, favors and deeds? Or is it physical contact or spending quality time together.
The interesting thing about this story is that Jones shows up expectantly when the characters in the story seemed to have an issue they cannot solve. He’s not pushy, he’s opening their eyes and ears to things they have forgotten about, or have not noticed before. However, as the reader continues on the stroll with Jones, and come to the end of the story, they realize that this story is somewhat reminiscent of a story told thousands of years ago.