Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eavesdropping – People are Listening

Guest post: Bill Grimes
Frequently we find ourselves in situations such as sitting on a train, plane or standing in line where stranger’s cell phone conversations or what should be a personal chat between two friends becomes more of a public broadcasting event.

It’s annoying because it’s not your conversation. You’re forced to listen to someone else, like listening to someone else’s music – it just doesn’t do it for you. But don’t you find yourself just a little curious? It can be like an Oprah Show materializing before your ears. There’s melodrama and angst to the point of being comical.

For example, here’s part of one side of a cell phone conversation heard on the train: “Alright, if that's what you want to do to each other. I don't know why you want to do that to each other.”

Another one-sided cell phone call: “Pepto-Bismol. PEP...TOE…BIZ…MAL! I'm telling you the truth.”

A man leaning toward another man across the aisle on the subway: “Excuse me. Excuse me. I'm sorry about your respiratory challenges. Do you mind covering your mouth when you cough?”

And then there is the summer vacation line that you cannot get out of. Initially, it was bothersome for people stuck in line for hours waiting for the refurbished Statute of Liberty to re-open in New York Harbor in 1986 to also have to listen to Randy. Randy is a bored 10-ish kid, in line with his sister and mother. Visiting Mother Liberty clearly was not Randy’s idea and he was determined to let everyone around him know. He started in with, “We have to stand in this line for how many hours?” (It turned out to be about four.)
And he continued, “I hate standing in line.”
Mom: “Stop whining.”
Randy: “I hate when my Mom says, ‘Stop whining’.”
Mom: “It’s the Statute of Liberty.”
Randy: “I hate the Statue of Liberty.”
Mom: “You’ll never forget this day.”
Randy: “I hate that I’ll never forget this day.”

About a minute of silence is broken by a concessionaire, “Hot dogs, snow cones, souvenirs!”
Randy: “I hate when someone yells ‘hot dogs, snow cones, souvenirs’.”
Mom, a little perturbed: “Randy, you’re getting on people’s nerves.”
Randy, more like a mantra than a whine: “I hate getting on people’s nerves.”
Mom tries to suppress a chuckle.

More chuckling is heard. This goes on for hours.

It’s unlikely anyone in line to see the refurbished Statute of Liberty will soon forget that day, especially those within earshot of Randy.

Photo credit via flickr to @darkpatator

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