Thursday, March 29, 2012


This morning was the first chance I had to make my trip to the Y, since we were out of town earlier in the week. John is outside painting the eaves, so I went by myself. The only remaining exercise bike of the type I like was right near a woman who was talking on her cell phone.

I had brought my Kindle to read while I pedaled, so I completely understood needing something else to do while on the bike. What disturbed me is that the woman next to me had apparently never been taught the concept of “inside voice”. Not only could I hear her side of the conversation clearly, but I suspect most people in the large, open gym could.

Not that she was discussing her hot affair with stud muffin Jorge or ways to hide money in offshore accounts. She was discussing problems with her child’s teacher and mentioned the teacher by name. I wasn’t exactly getting a helicopter mom vibe, but no one is going to say “No wonder the kid has problems. Those parents just don’t care”, either.

I could not think of a polite way of asking the woman to speak more quietly. For one thing, I would have had to interrupt her, and judging from the timing of her comments, her conversational partner was having difficulty getting a word in edgewise, let alone anyone else.

Besides, what I was reading was a frivolous mystery novel, not anything that required all my concentration. If I had wanted to, I could simply have pretended to read and gotten a complete education in the politics of our local school district’s gifted and talented program, a subject of interest to me in the past when my son was in the program, and that would have whiled away my time just as well. As it was, as hard as I tried not to eavesdrop, it was just about impossible not to hear.

What went through my mind, however, was how this conversation could come back to haunt Mom on the Phone. One of the first things they taught to us as baby speech pathologists was not to discuss clients in public places, even just by first names,  because you never know who is listening. MotP had mentioned Miss Dove (not her real name) by name, and since she was no doubt exercising near home, it is not unlikely that someone who knows Miss Dove could have heard her and passed the comments along, especially if MotP makes a habit of holding conversations like this in public places. I’ve been in the position of having people confront me over comments they heard about second hand, and it does not go well*. It’s hard to resolve a conflict when you have wrong footed yourself that way.

And the interesting thing about MotP is that she was a thoroughly nice woman. One of her concerns was the need for fund raising to help students who might not be able to afford an upcoming school event. She discussed the problems of finding time for self care among the overworked teachers or volunteers, I’m not sure which, and toward the end of the conversation offered some supportive words for the friend on the phone. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, she was just loud. I would just as soon have stayed out of her business, given the option, but I suspect if I actually knew her, I’d like her.

Lesson learned, at least, regarding my own public conversations. I really need to use my inside voice.

*Yeah, I know, if MotP reads this, it could get interesting. 

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