"It is the responsibility of writers to listen to gossip and pass it on. It is the way all storytellers learn about life."
One of the benefits of working a side job as a writer is the constant exposure to people and their stories. My co-workers are people I'm not likely to meet outside of work, our lives run in such different directions, and business is so slow, that the workplace has become a "safe place" for many of them to gossip, share stories, and complain in ways that might be awkward among friends.
It's interesting how comforting distance can be. I've met people on buses, at shops, and at work who will gladly unburden their souls to a complete stranger - relationship advice is the most common. I've had older business women confess to affairs, a college-aged co-worker admit to a sudden, and short-lived marriage, a drug-dealer gush about his beloved pet rabbit, and a bus driver discuss his neighbor's infidelities. When we don't know the person personally, it's easy to view them as we view the priest in the confessional: symbolic, representational, standing in for the people we really need to speak to.