We knew this point had to come eventually. We’re officially halfway through the #PNIWritingChallenge at day 15. Today’s question is bound to get me into trouble.
Do you eavesdrop on people around you in public places?
Do I? Do I? DO I? DO I?
You’re damn straight I do. Eavesdropping has become such an ingrained habit that I don’t know when I’m doing it anymore.
I’ve always been light on my feet. Once upon a time I read a few books that taught me how to be even lighter on them, and I used to practice that skill extensively.
The squeakiest stairs in the world? You’ll never know I came down them. There are secrets to that and I will not be sharing them now. Do your own research.
That noisy floorboard? Doesn’t flex when I go over it, therefore no sounds.
Crunchy leaves and sticks in the woods? No problem, and why don’t you actually challenge me?
I am quiet. Like ninja.
I unintentionally startled so many people at one point, that I got tired of hearing, “we should put a bell on you,” and started wearing actual bells. I had an anklet that jangled and wasn’t too obnoxious, and I had a belt like a belly dancer. The belt even annoyed me after most of a day had gone by.
I wore them off and on for more than a year. That’ll teach people not to tell me to wear bells.
Yes, I trolled my friends and family before trolling became a thing.
As I grew older and started working jobs, I realized I knew more about what was going on than most people because I’m quiet and I pay attention. Let’s not forget my razor sharp memory. These two traits have worked for and against me.
Once I began writing books, I realized what I had been doing for my entire life. I was collecting stories, and how people tell them. Word choices and cadence, emotional pitch and the experiences themselves.
I mentioned a long time ago that I have always hated writing dialogue. I often dislike reading it in some authors’ books. I thought it was a weakness of mine. Apparently not. I’ve been told it’s one of my strongest skills. I suppose it should be, I’ve been preparing for this for an awful long time.
Now that I’m the age that I am and am still a curious sort – and not in the British, “Oh, isn’t she peculiar?” way – it’s gone beyond basic eavesdropping. I like to test my skills. The advent of cell phones alone has made eavesdropping a goldmine, much less when those conversations are mixed with the old school spy games.
Yeah, you heard me. Spy games.
Let’s say I’m at the grocery store and a man is on the phone with a business partner. It’s an emotionally charged conversation. Somebody screwed up something somewhere, and these two people are talking on the phone to figure it out.
I have one side of the conversation because Phone Guy is using ear buds. He’s pacing, stalking his way through the store. What am I doing? Casually following while trying to figure out what it is they’re trying to figure out.
This happens often. It drives My Companion nuts, but he’s the first to admit it can be pretty interesting. We’ve heard some crazy things since we started hanging out on a regular basis.
I haven’t taken this to the next step yet, though I may someday. What is the next step? For me to tail someone home in a vehicle. Yes, a random person. I would do it just to see if I could. What I wouldn’t enjoy is talking to the cops if I’m not as smooth as I think I should be at this task.
I also imagine it would be just my luck to choose to follow someone who is about to start an out of state road trip. That could prove more time consuming than I would like an experiment to be.
I’ve mentioned before that we live in a third floor apartment, and I spend a lot of my time on the balcony. It’s my “outdoor office”. One of the better parts of the third floor balcony is that I can see and hear everything that goes on at the centrally located mailboxes and the dog park, and no one knows I’m up here.
Why? Because no one looks up. Like ever. I do, only because I know no one else does. And I’ve been trained by first person shooter video games.
Let’s not forget that I have the kind of face and attitude that encourages people to randomly tell me things they don’t generally talk about with other people.
What? You’d like examples? Sure!
While hanging at a dive bar one night, a guy tells me how one of his co-workers just quit. They were accused of embezzling $10k from the company, couldn’t prove innocence, and it was a shitty thing all around.
The guy telling me the story was the guy who embezzled the money. For all I know he still works for that company today.
There was the lady at the hair place who told me her entire life story, including her psychological condition where she plucks hair from her eyebrows, pubis, and back of head – and the trauma from her childhood that she believes led to her developing this condition.
The lady that pinned me down the night I had my first book release party and told me about her son who had been killed three days before – I am writing him into Freedom’s Song so when you read about bartender Robbie, know there’s a special story there.
The guy that quit his fine dining restaurant job and on his way out the door took $500 worth of wine and $150 worth of New York Strip steaks.
The woman trying to cheat on her husband because he doesn’t listen to her and she just wants to feel something for a little while.
The guy that used to get his ass kicked by his dad on a daily basis and then bullied kids in school because of it.
The stories go on and on. We’ll go out to eat or hang out and My Companion will step away from me for a few minutes to hit the restroom or order another round of drinks and when he comes back we’ll have a table full of new friends because conversations simply start when I’m around.
Technically I suppose I don’t have to eavesdrop. People will tell me anything without asking. I continue to eavesdrop because it’s fun, and it’s more natural.
So tell me friends who aren’t authors … do you eavesdrop? Inquiring minds want to know.