eavesdropping_2    eavesdropping_5

I am an introvert by nature, which gives me the added opportunity that more outgoing people miss.  I unobtrusively, but actively listen to conversations taking place around me in every day situations, whether it is at work, the checkout line at the store, on public transportation, or wherever I happen to be when a conversation catches my ear.  I am always surprised how some people either don’t care or are not aware of how loud they talk, how much their words reveal to uninvolved bystanders in their periphery, and how big of a glimpse they provide into their character.

Maybe you will see yourself on this page and relive a conversation you may have had and forgotten about.  If you recognize yourself at some point, please don’t feel violated. I did not use any type of listening devices other than my own two ears.  In truth, if  anyone’s privacy was violated, it was mine.  You spoke loud enough to intrude on my world, and your conversation was interesting enough to pique my curiosity and provoke me to listen.  Maybe by reading this, you will discover how others see and hear you.  If you are not comfortable with that revelation, you may want to think about reevaluating the way you present yourself in public settings.

I will keep these conversations vague so that the participants remain anonymous and because I am relying on memory, hours or days after the event. The conversations will be paraphrased and not direct verbatim transcripts. However, the overall accuracy and content of the conversation will be preserved to the best of my ability.

I will update this page as frequently as I overhear conversations that seem to provide an interesting snapshot of the participants and society as a whole so check this page often for updates.




The Contractor’s Wife and The Oil Man

The scene:  This conversation is one I heard while waiting in line at the pharmacy on February 19, 2009.

The participants: The wife of a KBR contractor and an oil company man of undetermined stature, a lady with long gray hair to her waist, the middle aged man she is with, and a store manager and a pharmacist.

The Conversation:

The oil company man is standing in front of me at the prescription drop off window when his cell phone rings loud. The ring tone is some kind of cell phone specific tune that is cranked to full volume and screams from his casual slacks as he clumsily gropes for the cell phone in his pocket.

He kills the ring tone finally, saying hello and wouldn’t you know it, his voice is at full volume too.

He tells the caller he thinks they need to hold off drilling the oil well in Wyoming and also a well in another location.  He tells the caller that it takes a while for the wells to actually get into production. The pharmacist interrupts him to verify his address.  He goes back to his call after confirming where he lives.  He responds, to a question from the caller.  He says he hasn’t completed something the caller is inquiring about, but he plans to work on it this weekend and get something put together.

He leaves the prescription drop off area and sits down in the waiting area of the pharmacy still on the cell phone next to a middle aged man and a woman with long waist length gray hair who are together.  I am next in line so while communicating with the pharmacist at the drop of f window, I lose track of Oil Man for a short time.

I get finished at the window and move over to the area by the prescription pick up window.

The gray haired woman and middle aged man that were seated next to Oil Man are up now standing near me in the waiting area.

The oil man stands up and walks over by the gray haired woman and middle aged man who have gotten up from their seats while oil man was still talking on his cell phone and are now standing near me by the pick up window area.  

Oil Man: (to the gray haired woman and middle aged man) I didn’t scare you off did I?

Gray Haired Woman: (without looking at the oil man ) Yeah, all that talk of drilling was scaring me.

Oil Man: (nervous laugh as if not sure if she is joking or not)

Gray Haired Woman: (as if she senses this awkward reaction) I’m just joking.

Oil Man: (to Gray Haired Woman) Do you ever happen to go into (name of a greeting card store across street from pharmacy)?

Gray Haired Woman: (confused expression maybe at the randomness of the question) Yeah, I do.

The middle aged man shifts his feet silently but uncomfortably where he stands beside the gray haired woman.

Oil Man: My wife works over there and she is the only other person I have see with hair as long as yours.

Long Gray Haired Woman: Yes I have seen her.

Oil Man: Your hair is very beautiful.

Gray Haired Woman: Thank you.

Oil Man: It is longer than my wife’s.

Long Gray Haired Woman: I don’t think so.

I get in line hoping they will call my name for my prescription soon.

Oil Man: (repeats) Your hair is beautiful.

I can only imagine how fidgety middle aged man is at this point.

The contractor’s wife is at the counter, in line ahead of me.  She has dropped of her prescription already and there is, of course, some kind of issue with it, as there usually is at the pharmacy, either with my own prescription or the person in line in front of me.  Nothing can ever run smoothly in the service sector it seems.

Contractor’s Wife:  (shouts over to the pharmacist calling him by his first name) I will have to tell you what my husband brought home for me this time from his trip.

The pharmacist is trying to do three things at once – help someone on the phone, help someone at the drive up window, and help the contractor’s wife.  He doesn’t answer the contractor’s wife at first.

Pharmacist: (mumbles something that sounds like “love slave?”)

Contactor’s Wife: Something better.

A few hectic minutes elapse and a manager is called back to help with the usual retail pharmacy chaos that always seems to ensue when I’m at the pharmacy.

The manager asks the contractor’s wife her name so he can find her prescription.  He has trouble locating it (no surprise).

Contractor’s Wife: (unashamedly shouts) It’s for Valium.

The manager finds the prescription and hands it to her. 

Contractor’s Wife: Is it for 50 pills?

Manager: It says 30 on here.

Contractor’s Wife: (raising her voice) This isn’t right. It’s supposed to be 50 pills. 30 pills are not going to cut it. 

Manager: Your insurance will only cover 30.

Contractor’s Wife: He is over in Iraq. I get that many every time.

Manager:  Do you want to pay the 58 dollars for it then?

Contractor’s Wife: I don’t care, that’s fine!

The manager walks away to correct the prescription.

Contractor’s Wife: I guess I’ll just go sit down and wait.

She goes over and sits next to the oil man who has left the couple and returned to the chairs in the waiting area.

Oil Man: Who does your husband work for?

Contractor’s Wife:  KBR

Oil Man: How long has he been in Iraq?

Contractor’s Wife: 4 years.

Oil Man: How long does he get to stay when he comes home?

Contractor’s Wife:  10 days.

Oil Man: That’s it?

Contractor’s Wife:  Yeah. They are doing good things over there and it is good money.

Oil Man: I think it was the right thing to go over there.

Contractor’s Wife: I do too. It’s so much better over there now. You can go into the city and go to the stores and restaurants without any problems.

Oil Man: What we need to do with Afghanistan now, once the surge is over, is to start working on building the schools etc.

The contractor’s wife agrees with the oil man.

Oil Man: So I’m guessing you’re like me, a conservative Republican?

Contractor’s Wife: Yes I am.

Oil Man: My wife is too.

Contractor’s Wife: I noticed you’re wearing a ****Golf Club shirt, you may know some of the same people I do. Do you live over there?

Oil Man: No, I play there some but I live over in (affluent neighborhood name).

Contractor’s Wife: I lived there but we bought a bigger house over in (more affluent neighborhood name).

The manager calls my name finally.  My prescription is ready thank you Jeebus. I quit listening to the oil man and the contractor’s wife while completing my transaction.  If I had continued to listen much longer, I would be the one needing the 50 Valium.  If I wanted to hear people that think the Iraq war was/is the right thing to do because they are benefiting financially from it, I can stay home and watch Fox News.

3 Responses to “Eaves Droppings”

  1. mrbobret Says:


  2. Liza Says:

    I noticed that this is not the first time at all that you write about the topic. Why have you decided to write about it again?

    1. bobman1234 Says:

      Liza, can you be more specific about which topic you are referring to?

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