I know, I know, I know, it is such a small-minded, sneaky, and downright petty thing to do. But… Hello my name is Kevin, and I am addicted to eavesdropping.
I don’t know how I picked up such a lowdown habit. And what’s worse, I am talking about listening to conversations of people I don’t even know – in the checkout line, in the coffee shop, at the movie theatre, in the street… I am addicted. It’s so bad I even make notes about it sometimes. People just fascinate me.
Don’t get it twisted… I do not purposely try to overhear what people are trying to keep private. It is more a matter of not tuning out what folks are making no attempt to keep to themselves. Most of what folks say does fall into the category of useless drivel, because of course most of what goes on in our lives is only of interest to ourselves. But sometimes you can hear extraordinary things. You can also learn a lot.
- Cultural trivia – Did you know that “Leonardo DiCaprio painted the Mona Lisa”? And according to my source “that is lucky for him because the Mona Lisa is probably worth at least a million dollars now.”
- Historical facts – I was not aware that Prince Charles’s mother, QEII, “defeated the Spanish Armada a few years back.”
- Political news – thank God I overheard this woman warning her friend that “Obama was going to put all white Christians into concentration camps.” Otherwise I might have been caught off guard (note to self – change religions).
I am also constantly shocked about what people will talk about in public. The other day at the drugstore, the two ladies in front of me went into explicit detail about the reasons for their impending Preparation H purchases. Did they go hemorrhoid shopping together? Is that a new thing? You can hear about your neighbor’s sex lives, digestive problems, or money woes. You just have to not – not listen.
On a serious note, I will never forget that I first learned of the approach of Hurricane Katrina by overhearing a conversation. Yes, sometimes I hear things I wish I hadn’t. I have heard things that were sad, funny, scary, ridiculous, and even profound.
Why would anyone want to listen? For me…it keeps me on my toes. It reminds me why I need to vote. It reminds me that not everyone has had the same advantages as me. It keeps me humble. It reminds me of the importance of context. It makes me sympathetic. It makes me angry. It keeps me aware of the zeitgeist.
But most of all it reminds me TO KEEP MY FUCKING MOUTH SHUT – somebody might be listening.