Monday, 5 March 2007

Listening in

We have all been irritated by having to listen to people wittering away on their mobile phones or, in the case of Americans, cellphones; it is not really surprising that most of them are not aware, or do not care, that we can hear every word, for they invariably seem to be having conversations of quite staggering banality. I have never overheard any which someone other than the participants could conceivably find interesting.

Until yesterday. While browsing quietly among a supermarket's fruit & vegetables, I noticed a man with his phone to his ear. He was not speaking very loudly, but was clearly audible to anyone within a radius of ten feet or so. Clearly, he was upset, but was speaking quite calmly, more in sorrow than in anger. What he was saying was:
“You’ve been lying to me… you lied about your affair… you lied when you left me.. and now you’re still lying…”

I turned my back so as not to embarrass him, and began carefully selecting onions and putting them in my basket one by one. He went on: “..and now there’s all this business with the divorce. I’m trying to be fair but you’re making it impossible with your demands and your lies…

And so on in this vein for a several minutes. I knew I wouldn’t be able to remember it all and wanted to make clandestine notes on the back of my shopping list, but by the time I had found a pen the conversation was over. Anyway, I suppose I had got the gist; there weren’t any major developments in the closing stages, just more of the same.

I later wondered whether I should feel ashamed for having listened, but then told myself that the man obviously didn’t care who heard him, and of course if he had broken down into great racking sobs I would have been the first to hasten to his side and give the poor fellow what comfort I could, in return for the entertainment he had given me.

No comments: