But I Certainly Hear a LOT of Conversations
By Jeff Salter
This week’s topic asks whether we’ve ever overheard a conversation and added it in some way to a story. Wow… this is a goldmine! I’m constantly hearing or overhearing exchanges between / among folks — and most of them are (most likely) not even aware that anyone else is listening. In some of these cases it’s a matter of the individuals simply being quite loud — often they’re on their cell phone to someone else. Sometimes, as in one of my examples, below, they simply don’t take into account that someone is sitting in the very next booth, less than 12 inches between the back of their head and the back of mine. I mean… some people just don’t know how to lower their voices. Or they simply don’t care if anyone hears. Or – and I contemplate this often – maybe they WANTED everyone in the establishment to hear their conversation!
But have I used any of these overheard conversations in a “story”? Hmm. Depends on how you define “story”. I’ve used them in blogs and FB posts. It’s entirely possible that some have crept into my fiction… somewhere.
Example # 1 [posted on 10-21-2014]
Overheard a brief but fascinating conversation at the grocery this afternoon.
An older gent was moving slowly… and he grunted or grimaced as he approached the younger man (who evidently already knew him).
The younger man was also obviously a man of medicine because he remarked, “Ya got a hitch in yer git-a-long?”
His diagnosis must have been spot-on because the older gent replied affirmatively and proceeded to add a detail or two… which, unfortunately, I missed.
I only missed it because it would have been criminal eavesdropping had I lingered to learn the specific cause of his “hitch”. [You know… a HIPAA violation.]
All this medical diagnostic work and not a dime for the co-pay.
The most interesting aspect of this case is that my own git-a-long seems to have developed a hitch equal to that of this older gent’s.
Now I need to call the grocery and see if they know the name of that young doctor.
Example # 2 [posted on 12-9-2015]
Do you ever find yourself practically in the middle of somebody else’s conversation… but you wish you weren’t? You know, they’re in the next booth (which is about 8 inches away) and loudly talking and you can’t help overhearing. Here’s the one I overheard today.
[Names have been changed]
Guy # 1: You should go see Joe Doe, at ABC.
Guy # 2: Yeah, maybe I’ll do that. So what was his name?
Guy # 1: Joe Doe.
Guy # 2: Joe Doe, huh? And where’s he at?”
Guy # 1: He works at ABC, up on North 27.
Guy # 2: Good idea. I’ll check it out. Who should I ask for?
Guy # 1: Joe Doe. He’s the main guy.
Guy # 2: And that’s over where?
Guy # 1: North 27, just past XYZ. It’s the ABC place.
Guy # 2: Oh, ABC. That’s uh…
Guy # 1. On North 27.
Guy # 2: Okay. Sounds. like a plan. Who’s the guy again?
Guy # 1: Joe Doe.
Okay, folks, this is not verbatim, but it’s pretty durn close to their exchange. By the time we’d reached Guy # 2’s 14th question about the contact’s name, I was ready to write it on a napkin and just HAND it to him.
Have y’all ever been stuck on the fringes of a conversation like this?
Example # 3 [posted on 7-24-2012]
I was not eavesdropping, but could not help overhearing this conversation between two guys in the locker room at the ‘Y’.
Guy # 1 seemed to be consoling his friend and his voice sounded quite compassionate as he said: “…never let a woman hold your wallet or your watch.”
That caught my attention for several reasons — not the least of which was that wristwatches are rarely seen these days. Naturally, I assumed that voice belonged to an older man.
I couldn’t quite hear Guy # 2’s reply, but he seemed to affirm that platitude.
Then Guy # 1 repeated, presumably for emphasis (and to drive home his key points): “Nope… you never let a woman hold your wallet or your watch…”
It seemed there was much more to Guy # 2’s misery and I longed to hear the summation of his experienced friend’s wise counsel. However, one of them apparently noticed I was in earshot… and their conversation ended abruptly when I turned the corner of that row of tall lockers.
I confess I was quite startled when I saw them.
It would have been remarkable advice even if Guy # 1 was not all of about 11 years old… and Guy # 2 (slightly larger) couldn’t have been more than 12.
One wonders how that little chap already has so much experience with women.
At the time I initially posted this on Facebook, one of my friends suggested this boy had probably heard that sage advice from an older brother or dad (or even an uncle). Someone else suggested – and I think this more likely – that he could’ve heard it from his grandpa.
However, another of my female friends – responding to the seeming immaturity of this boy – replied:
“I was quite reliable at 11, myself, and still am. I can add, ‘Never let a boy hold more than your hand.’ BOY meaning immature male of any age… in other words, most males.”
Have YOU ever overheard a jewel of a conversation? Can you share it?
[JLS # 471]