Listen and Take Note

I am sure that I should not so readily admit this, but here goes.  I love eavesdropping on the bus.

There is something so intriguing about hearing small snippets of conversations.  You are never quite sure of the whole story or who the conversation is between – friends, strangers, co-workers, lovers – but that makes the listening in even more interesting.

It makes me feel a bit like an urban anthropologist.

Last week, in a particularly crowded bus, I listened to a man having a loud and lengthy conversation on his cell phone. There was discussion of money with clearly some disagreement over the amount.  Then the conversation moved to a discussion of what seemed to be a mutual friend with kind words, “sure he’s an ok guy”, followed by statements that made me wonder, “I told him to stay away”.  I was drawn in.

I was standing and as the bus grew more crowded I moved toward the back.

It was then that I saw a seated man quickly scribbling notes in a black and white composition book.  He was writing so fast and with such zeal that I had to peer over to see what he was writing. I could not believe my eyes. As the cell phone man said, “but I had her picture all over the gym”, the seated man scratched out those very same words.

I had found a fellow urban anthropologist taking field notes on the bus.

Before I could figure out how to reach out  and say, “You are taking notes, what a wonderful idea!  What do you do with the notes?  What have you heard?  I listen in too! the tide of passengers changed.

The cell phone man made his way further toward the back, finding a seat out of my earshot, and I was moved to spot where I was no longer within view of the note taking man.

Oh, if only we had connected!

Now that I know you are out there – fellow eavesdropper, urban anthropologist, note taking man – I will look for you.

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