Overheard, Overseen.

It’s funny how quickly people become accustomed to new technology. For instance I remember the first time I saw someone using a hands-free phone. Or rather heard. Or rather heard and saw. It was at an airport and there was a woman sitting by the window. At first I thought she was talking to herself, which is fine–I think we all talk to ourselves even if we don’t usually do it out loud. But then I noticed she was giving pretty detailed instructions, and it sounded like she was giving them to another person. It definitely sounded like a conversation, even though it sounded like she wasn’t giving the other person much of a chance to get a word in. She was holding up her end and most of theirs. She was also gesturing a lot which I can understand. I like to gesture when I’m talking too and in fact a good way to get me to shut up is to tie up my hands, but that’s another story. Now I’ll confess that I don’t like eavesdropping. I love eavesdropping. I’m interested in other peoples’ stories and listening in is a pretty good way to hear them, but I also know it’s rude, so I try to avoid it. However when someone is at the same gate of an airport as you and practically yelling instructions it’s hard not to pick up on it. And in fairness to her it was clear she worked for some kind of charitable organization so that was good. Now I might put in my earbuds and turn on some music or a podcast because, thanks to smartphones, a lot of us carry miniature computers in our pockets at all times, but I didn’t even have a cell phone at the time or, if I did, it was one of those flip phones that was only good for making calls and could barely handle that. Anyway the woman turned at one point and I could see she had a wire dangling from her ear and it was plugged into a cell phone, and that confirmed what I’d already suspected: there was new technology available that allowed people to talk on their phones without having to hold the phone up to their ear which, to me, has always been the worst part of talking on the phone: my ear always gets hot and sweaty and back in the days of landlines and pay phones, well, you didn’t know whose ear had been pressed up against the receiver before yours.
Anyway I thought about all this the other day when I was standing at the bus stop and, as usual, the sign that said the bus would be arriving in three minutes had been stuck on that for about three hours, and I started commenting on the ridiculousness of the Nashville bus system. I’m sure that I used more than a few colorful metaphors and even some outright swear words, gesturing wildly the whole time. I was talking to myself, although my comments were addressed to the brains, or lack of them, behind local public transit, so it might have sounded to the casual listener like I was engaged in a mostly one-way conversation. And then I turned around and there was an older woman standing a few feet away from me. Needless to say I felt pretty embarrassed and I hoped she hadn’t heard most of what she said or that, if she did, she was charitable enough to be understanding. As it is I was too embarrassed to say anything and just stuck my earbuds in and turned on a podcast.

Facebook Comments

18 Comments

  1. Bookstooge

    If you can’t tell the crazy’s from the regulars, does that make them ALL crazy?
    Bookstooge recently posted…I NEED Questions, Advice, Etc!My Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s an excellent question and reminds me of the saying that when the going gets weird the weird turn professional. Well, I’ve been trying to turn professional for some time, but the weirdness always seems to be one step ahead.

      Reply
  2. thehuntress915

    Don’t you just hate it when your talking to yourself and someone else hears you? Then all the obscenities are lost on other people, lol.

    Reply
  3. Sean

    I definitely assume at this point that anyone who seems to be talking to themselves is on the phone. That would not have been the case ten years ago!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s funny how much that’s changed. What’s even funnier is that with the woman in the airport I could see she had some kind of device. Now with wireless earbuds people really can look like they’re talking to themselves. Although I’d better not get started on wireless earbuds because that’s a whole lengthy rant.

      Reply
  4. Allison

    If you don’t want me eavesdropping, don’t have conversation loud enough for me to here. I like to think I’m curious, rather than nosy. But like you, I love it!

    Reply
    1. Jay

      Agreed. I think eavesdropping implies some sort of intent to overhear. If someone is simply being loud, you can’t help simply having ears!

      Reply
    2. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I guess “curious” is a better term for it. Now that you mention it I’m reminded of Desmond Morris who said he observed people the way naturalists observed animals, which I like to think I do as well. People are fascinating creatures.

      Reply
  5. Arionis

    And then came the invention of the blue tooth earpiece which was really a good instrument for identifying self important jizz waffles.
    Arionis recently posted…Hello SunshineMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      And yet everyone seems to have a blue tooth earpiece these days. They can’t all be self-important jizz waffles, can they? I’m so neurotic I worry about mentioning that I don’t have a blue tooth earpiece. I worry it makes me sound like I’m so above such ridiculous devices. Oh, did I mention I don’t have a blue tooth earpiece?

      Reply
  6. Tom

    When I feel like someone can’t hear my conversation, I turn it up. I’m the opposite of an eavesdropper; I guess you’d call me an eavesdropee. I feel like what I’m saying must be important for everyone to hear, or at least that’s what they tell me at the bar. 😉

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Reply
  7. rivergirl

    I’ve had some of my best conversations with myself.
    I agree with everything I say, it’s perfect.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      You’re very lucky that you agree with everything you say. Some of the worst disagreements I’ve had have been with myself. I once got so annoyed I didn’t speak to myself for a week.

      Reply
  8. Jay

    I’ve mistakenly responded to one-sided conversations before….oof.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      You’ve reminded me of a hilarious bit Billy Connolly did when a cell phone went off in the audience during one of his performances. He improvised a lengthy bit about how he carries on conversations with people on their cell phones if they’re standing next to him. I think we’re just wired to assume that someone talking near is is talking to us.

      Reply
  9. Ann Koplow

    I remember an old routine of Lily Tomlin’s when she talked about pairing up crazy people who talk to themselves so it would look like they were having normal conversations. Technology has made that solution obsolete. As always, I love eavesdropping on you, Chris.
    Ann Koplow recently posted…Day 2653: What I foundMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Fortunately Lily Tomlin isn’t obsolete and neither are you. I’m glad you’re listening in.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge
%d bloggers like this: