Do You Hear What I Hear? / by Courtney Mehlhaff

So I've been MIA for about two weeks, and for that I apologize.  Heavy workload + vacation to help retain sanity after heavy workload = burnout narrowly avoided but replaced by apathy.

Today's word: eavesdrop.  Definition: To listen secretly to the private conversations of others.

I'm going to come right out and say it.  I am a HUGE eavesdropper.  I don't know if this stems from riding the bus and being surrounded by ridiculous conversations, or whether I'm just curious about others' lives, or whether I just get an enormous kick out of people in general.  

Whatever the case, rest assured that if you're on your cell phone or engaged in a heated discussion and either of these things is at an audible level, I'm going to be listening.  Not only will I turn down my iPod, but if the exchange is good enough, I will most likely take out a paper and pen and write it down so I can laugh about it later.  I firmly believe that if you keep your ears open and your yapper shut, you will be endlessly entertained.

There are several unwritten rules to eavesdropping.  Actually, I almost hate to call it that, because the way people talk on their phones these days, it's like they genuinely want everyone within earshot involved in their conversation.  

Rule #1:  Never look like you're listening.  This means leaving your headphones in, even if you've silenced the music in favor of hearing the chatter around you.  It also means never reacting to what is said.  See Rule #2.

Rule #2:  Never laugh out loud.  I have been reduced to tears on the bus because I'm trying so desperately not to burst out laughing.  This is paramount because of Rule #3.

Rule #3:  Never make eye contact.  Typically, the most amusing incidents are ones in which you do NOT want to be involved, even remotely.  Acknowledging that you're listening and have passed judgment on the situation is inviting yourself into the chaos.  Thus, I would highly recommend not turning and looking if there's something going on behind you, unless you want to be called out and become a new target for craziness.

I have so many hilarious eavesdropping tales, but so few of them are repeatable in mixed company.  I'm adding the disclaimer that I'm not making any of these up ... I'm simply repeating them ... so I can't be held responsible for the language or the content.  

Today's story, overheard in the bathroom at Macy's about three years ago, just before Christmas.  The woman across from me was in the stall on her phone, and I stayed in my stall much longer than necessary out of sheer joy.  Her end of the conversation went like this:

"Don't you take that ham out.  Don't take that ham out! . . . .We gon' cook it up.  You don't want ham, you go shop for yourself.  You go buy cheez whiz when you get paid . . . Cain't shop for himself . . . never have no mutherfuckin' money . . . . Shit.  Do your own shopping. . . . .Girl, I'm just playin' wit choo! . . . .I gotta go, they holdin' a pair of shoes for me downstairs."

And . . . scene.  I'll have another one tomorrow.