Every week I have lunch in a Rochester diner with two very old friends. Today at lunch we had more than soup and salad; we had drama. A man who had been loitering near the counter pocketed money left on a table to pay a lunch bill and then walked out the door. The waitress noticed this and yelled, "Hey, he stole my money!" Three men sitting at a table near the door jumped up and took off in pursuit, followed by the waitress. A plain-clothes policeman coming out of the bank building saw the running four, heard the shouting pursuers, grabbed the thief and threw him in a snowbank, of which we have lots -- it's sixteen degrees Fahrenheit outside. The cop arrested the perp, the money was returned, the pursuers went back inside, and the waitress burst into tears.
What I especially noticed about all this was how fast it happened. The whole story took about three minutes. If I were writing this in a story (as opposed to a blog), I would probably take three or four pages to write the scene, which means it would take between five and eight minutes to read aloud (depending on the amount of dialogue and whether the reader was from upcountry Georgia or downtown New York). I'm used to thinking of fiction as happening faster than real life, but here real life was much more rapid.
I'm not sure what this means -- I should use fewer words in writing scenes? Thieves should plan better escapes? Cops shouldn't be so efficient? I'm not sure of the lunch-time drama's literary implications for me, but I'm pondering them.