Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Eavesdropping Paradox

I've noticed a certain odd paradox to eavesdropping, and I'm curious whether others have noticed this as well.

Eavesdropping is completely irresistible. Yet no matter what the topic of conversation or who's having it, it always sounds incredibly stupid. 

Next time you're tempted to eavesdrop, test this theory and you'll see it's true. Absent some sort of Nixonian Watergate scandal, eavesdropping yields nothing but boredom and contempt paired with an inability to stop listening to someone else's insipid blathering.

Take this row of bros (brow?) sitting at a hotel bar in Anchorage. An older gentleman from Juneau (who has been cropped from the photograph to protect the innocent), was holding court with these three dudes from Texas about fishing in Alaska. I know the former was from Juneau, not because I recognized him, but because I overheard him say it. I also know one of the other guys lived in Costa Rica for 10 years, also because I overheard him say it. (He lived near the school, which is where all the gringos lived).

All of this while waiting for my $20 chopped Cobb salad to go, which I was planning to (and did) eat in my room while watching the Weather Channel.

And my realization was this: what's good for the goose is good for the gander. It's not like I have incredibly interesting conversations that other people don't feel the same way about overhearing. When people eavesdrop on me, surely they think that whatever I have to say is stupid and meaningless. They're right. And yet, they listen.

Sorry, gotta go. I want to hear more about that middle guy's pontoon boat.

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