Airing Private Conversations in Public

… or “Don’t People Realize We Can Hear Every Word from Across the Store?

By Jeff Salter

Other than some sort of horrendous emergency, I cannot imagine carrying-on one of my private phone conversations… loudly, in public, so that people can hear my every syllable some 100 feet away. It’s not that I’m especially “private” in what type of conversation I’m having. My reasons are twofold: (A) my conversation is nobody else’s business, and (B) it would be incredibly RUDE of me to inflict my loud conversation on innocent bystanders.

Not so, apparently, with MANY people I encounter. Witness this telephonic fracas from November 2017:

Portrait of a senior man on a white background.

Zipped into IGA on my way home from exercise.
While I was selecting bananas, I heard (and immediately saw) a man at the soup area, yelling.
The way he was yelling, I assumed his mate was at the other end of that same aisle. Or… perhaps on the far side of the store. I could hear him clearly from at least 50 feet away… and I’m guessing they could hear him way over at the deli.
Anyway he was going on and on about the soup selections… apparently unsure which one to get. I didn’t catch all of his conversation, which seemed pretty one-sided. [I never did hear his partner speak, wherever she was.]
The one bit I did grasp went about like this:
“I AM looking at the soup section.”
“It’s not here.”
“I’m LOOKING at the top shelf.”
“Oh… you mean CREAM of chicken?”
There was more to the exchange, but I had to focus on the bananas.
As this odd, loud, one-sided conversation went on, I kept wondering why he couldn’t just wait until his mate caught up with him on the soup aisle. I mean, why subject the rest of Somerset to your inability to locate cream of chicken soup?
Then I finally realized (as I got closer) — he was on his cell phone… and he had it on SPEAKER.
Now, folks, tell me: why would you conduct this interaction on SPEAKER?


Do YOU conduct private phone conversations loudly and in public? Does it feel like an aural assault when somebody else (nearby) is doing so?

[JLS # 596]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Airing Private Conversations in Public

  1. I Have to say that you could probably encounter something of that sort from us when Joe-the-Husband goes to the store alone!
    I do speak on the phone in public, but it is never something of a private nature, (or should be considered one to most people.) I do not carry on long conversations in stores, or elsewhere, and I keep my voice as low as possible.
    I have encountered terribly private phone conversations by other people in public. Some of those were by people wearing earbuds, but more often than not, it is a person using speakerphone, holding it out in front of their chin, and yelling into the bottom.
    I sometimes wonder if some of the ones who have earbuds in aren’t crazy and using non-phone ones to get away with talking to themselves or their inner demons.
    Several times I have wanted to say, “Do you REALLY want to be talking about this where everyone can hear?”
    Even if the conversation is not of a personal matter, talking loudly is rude.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      totally agree. It’s inconsiderate to wreck the audio “space” of others with one’s LOUD yakking. In most of the cases I’ve witnessed, it appears to be someone wanting the attention of those around him/her… a kind of “look at me, I’m important” ting.


  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    People having loud conversations on speaker phone are a pet peeve of mine. I understand that some people speak loudly due to hearing difficulties, but I don’t understand why I need to listen to both sides of the discussion. As you say, it’s none of my business. Plus, when I’m hearing them, I tend to forget what I’m supposed to be doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jbrayweber says:

    My voice will rise if my buttons are pushed beyond pissed-off. Not to the point of shouting, of course. And not entire conversations. But enough where I am sure someone else can hear. I try to control it and reign it back in, but…eh…the kids…they know which buttons to push.

    I guess I don’t really notice when other people do it. And if I do, I quickly will forget about it. The only time it would bother me would be when eating at a restaurant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      yes… loud diners disrupting my meal in a restaurant is a no-no. Especially if I’m paying for food AND “atmosphere.” How dare they spoil that atmosphere.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    No, I would not, and I can’t imagine why anyone would. I don’t care for the entire world to know my business. The only exception might be if a person I’m speaking to is almost deaf. I think I’d still just lean closer to them, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      while my mom was still alive — in her final years of near total deafness — she often involved me in LOUD conversations in public. Actually, I think she enjoyed the attention. Of course, I did NOT.


  5. That really doesn’t bother me when it is in that context. Wyatt has run into the store for me on days when I don’t feel well and if he can’t find something he’ll call me. The one day he did a video call because he was at the cheese and couldn’t find the butter. When I answered his call I could see that yes he was at the cheese BUT he was at the cheese which was in the meat counter. I had to direct him over to the prepackaged cheese where the butter was. So I completely understand where that guy was coming from.
    However, the people who have their phone calls in public where they are arguing over the phone and cussing each other out needs to stay out of the public ear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      yes, the phones can be a blessing when the one shopping needs directions or clarification.
      But I hate to be subjected to shouting matches when I’m doing my business in some establishment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s