"... the people that you meet each day?" (Sorry, couldn't help it. And if you grew up in the US and possibly some other countries and don't get the reference, I'm taking away your childhood card.)
"We're each living out our own epic movies, and everyone else around us is a supporting character."
I've heard variations of this for years now, and can't help but love this description of life. Usually, it then goes on to say something along the lines of how we have main cast surrounding us (the people who, in some way or another, interact with us on a regular basis), the guest characters, and the extras. They color our world, giving depth and meaning, comedy and drama and (sometimes) horror to our "movie."
Take my apartment complex, for example. Until I get the heck out of this place, I'm constantly forced to interact with my neighbors... even if I don't want them in my film. They're the extras that color my night and morning. They give me stories to tell and bring out facets of my personality (usually high doses of tolerance and barely contained annoyance) that might not come out through the rest of my day.
There's the creepy woman across the complex who hits on guys who are old enough to be her son. The lady next door who will trap me into one hour conversations about her bathroom. The old woman who wanders aimlessly about the complex, talking to herself. The guy who thinks everyone hates him and constantly tells anyone who would listen. The "drug addict" who (apparently, according to nosy neighbor) has no furniture. Old guy across the hall who keeps jumping out in his boxers to ask me a question when I try to go to work in the morning (I soooo can't unsee that. Heaven, help me.)
The yentas who kept hoping to set me up with grumpy dog walking guy.
I usually try not to put people I know into stories, but these just might make it into a MS or two someday. I just have to find a way to capture all of that particular brand of crazy.
Good books, books that I love, have a diverse and well defined "cast," just like in real life. Underwear neighbor might be incredibly annoying to me, but he's a part of my story (for now.) Whether I want them in my life or not. My consolation- they're perfect fodder for my own characters' supporting cast.
So... who are the people in your neighborhood? And do you use them as "inspiration"?