Saturday, February 11, 2012

Have You Ever Noticed?

We would be appalled, crushed, angry and unforgiving if we thought our phones were tapped.  And rightly so.  No one has the right to hear our private conversations, our intimate thoughts with loved ones, our business transactions or professional talk.  We have a fundamental right to privacy.  Right?

So then why do people talk on their cell phones in public like they are in a cone of silence?   I’ve written before about overheard conversations where the speaker at my end seems oblivious to her surroundings.  But it happens all the time. 

When I was in the airport over the holidays, I couldn’t read and had lots of time to wait.  So I sat at the end of a row of chairs near my gate and wrote down snatches of conversations I heard from people walking past.  Yes, I admit I was eavesdropping.  But it was a challenge not to.  People are talking in a normal tone of voice, some even louder than that, as they stroll or rush past speaking to distant friends or relatives on their cells.  All I did was try not to ignore them.  I wasn’t prying – I just stopped for a few minutes trying to filter them out.  

I have to call my broker because that totally sucks!

That’s exactly what I’m talking about – the frikkin’  bum!

We’ll figure it out, Mom, I promise.

Oh God, she’s a mess.   But what can we do?

She’s just plain weird – TOTALLY weird...  Where does she get off?

My mother lives in a different world from the rest of us…  I know, right?

Be serious, for God’s sake!  I’m getting on an airplane.

I HATE these small planes.  Can you believe they are making us ride in these things!? 

God, I miss you already. 

When I get back there’ll be HELL to pay!...  Whatever.

WTF (the words, not the letters) does he think he’s doing?  I’ll fix his @$$.

I know it’s not a good time, but I’ve got to go, baby.  It won’t be that long.

You don’t have to meet me.  I’ll just get a cab…  Really?  You’d do that for me?  You don’t have to.

They’d better be on time.

Give the kids a kiss for me.  Tell them I love them…  Love you too, honey.

(This one – a business suit – looking at his phone and actually shaking it then speaking)  Have you lost your mind!?  It better be straightened out before I get there.

I got all of this and more in about 5 minutes.  And just think, ten or fifteen years ago as people walked through airports (or down the street, or at restaurants, or waiting in line at the post office or the DMV) they spoke to the people around them, or just thought thoughts in their heads.   Don’t get me wrong, I am all for open and honest communication. 

But WTF?  (The letters not the words.)  Would you want your phone tapped?


Miss Jennifer said...

The things I overhear in the library are great too (even though people really need to not use their phone in the library). My favorite was the night I heard all about one man's colonoscopy. So delightful! Enjoy reading your adventures, Tim. Hope all is well in SC.
Jennifer Buch

Cary said...

I think you should work this material up into a routine for Jerry Seinfeld.
I was really sorry to read about your mother's passing. She was always so sharp and you knew exactly what was on her mind (which wasn't always easy to hear, since she always seemed to surmise what we had been up to). I'm sure it's still not easy, but it sounds like you were able to be fully present with her during the transition, which helps.

I just found your blog randomly, while procrastinating from a complicated assignment. I must say, what happened to Tull under your music faves in your profile? Otherwise, you still seem like the same Tim-O I remember.

Really bummed that I didn't discover you sooner, since I live in Portland, OR, and you were out here last fall. Just recently became a lawyer, doing enviro stuff, mostly.

I'm really happy to see that you and Heidi, and those two strapping young men are doing so well.


Tim O'Keefe said...

Cary? Cary Allen?! Man, it is good to hear from you. I couldn't backtrack you from this blog. Give me a call (803) 479-8320 or email It would be so cool to catch up.