Marc - Column for 10/14

Eavesdropping and my cell phone

Iím an eavesdropper. I know itís probably not the most Ďpoliteí thing to do, but itís something Iím not too worried about. I donít stalk folks or anything obnoxious like that. By eavesdropping, I simply mean that I pay attention to conversations that happen within earshot. This happens at the mall, a coffee shop, a random bookstore, or any other place where I find myself with time on hands. Heck, I grew up hearing about how my grandfather would go people watching in the mall, while my grandmother went shopping. I simply think of listening in as the logical next step. Of course, any grandchildren I have may become stalkers or something, but thatís not really my problem. At least not until they need bail money or an alibi.

For example, when my wife and I got out to dinner alone we tend to not talk that much. Itís not like we sit in sullen silence or anything. We are just content to have the odd comment and such, but we donít spend the entire hour or two talking about things. I think we have done this for most of our relationship. The effect of this is that we normally hear conversations that are going on around us. This leads to us having a lot of time to overhear what folks say a lot. Normally, itís not that interesting, but we have had some amusing experiences.

Now, the funny thing about this is that you get a sense of the lives that are happening around you. Itís nothing cosmic, but you do hear things that give some sense of how people are doing. Are they complaining about work? What are they planning to do later that day? Those sorts of things. Given that frame of mind, Iíve had two interesting things happen to me recently.

First, some background. My wife and I recently got new cell phones. I have been a customer of AT&T for a few years now. We ended up with Cingular Family Plan. Now, we ended getting new phones and that is where the interesting thing happened.

My wife and I were sitting at home one night when my new cell phone rang. I didnít recognize the number. Since I was talking with various recruiters at the time, I figured it was a called related to an interview or something. It was a woman asking for Steve. I told her that I was sorry, but there is not Steve her. She seemed a bit surprised and hung up. I went back to whatever I was doing. Maybe a minute later, my phone rang again. It was the same woman again. She asked for Steve again. There was a bit more of an edge to her voice now. Same response. She really didnít seem that happy. Now, I had this image of a woman who was all excited to talk with some guy named Steve. The only thing keeping her from have the fun conversation was that she gotten hold of instead. Thatís what I call unlucky. It was also a much stronger feeling of getting caught up in someone elseís life.

The funny thing is that the phone call wasnít the only time itís happened with my new phone. I was in Crate-n-Barrel last weekend and I got another call. This time it was a woman asking for a Dave. When I told her I wasnít Dave she got quiet. Then, in a quiet, disbelieving voice, she said, ďCome onÖ Stop joking, Dave.Ē The woman kept insisting that I was Dave playing some sort of joke on her. After I got off the phone, I really felt sorry for the woman. Now, Iíve decided that my phone number must be the fake number of choice in some club.

Columns by Marc