Friday, April 24, 2009

Hear me out

I am an eavesdropper; always have been.

My earliest memories include listening to adult conversation, trying to piece together what it was they were talking about. I listen to nearby conversations in airports, at the doctor's office, in convenience stores and while riding the bus.

I have even been known to listen to a single side of a conversation when I catch someone else on the telephone, and with the wide-spread use of cellular telephones, that is becoming easier and easier to do, whether I want to or not.

This week, Rachael and I had a late lunch in the swell neighborhood restaurant in our building -- it's Mexican and serves great chicken flautas -- and we both got hooked on the cell phone conversation in the next booth.

A fellow in his twenties took a call from his grandmother, at least he referred to the caller as Grandma, and they gabbed for almost fifteen minutes. Have you ever heard Abbott and Costello do Who's On First? This was funnier.

He apparently did some sort of sales work; what he sells never came up, but he was telling Granny about an upcoming business trip. She wasn't talking loud enough for us to hear her side of the conversation. He was talking loud enough for both of them.

"I'm leaving Friday for ten days, Grandma."

"I don't know. Paraguay or Uruguay, one of those two."

"I don't know. In South America, I think; maybe Central America. I'm not sure. They speak Spanish."

"A little bit, and the company is paying for an interpreter."

"Yeah, I'm flying. Uh huh. It's too far to drive."

"No. My boss said my commissions are lower than anyone else's and so I have to be the one to go."

"I'm not going to get fired, Grandma! But I may quit; I'm twenty-seven years old and I'm not even making five thousand a week!"

I thought Rachael was going to choke on her refried beans on that last one; it was the funniest thing he said during the entire conversation. The saddest, too. I suspect the fellow is not the only twenty-seven-year-old who expects to make five thousand dollars a week.

Nor the only one uncertain where Uruguay is.