Monday, February 7, 2011

Listening: An Exercise

     My assignment for this week is to listen.  It seems simple enough, but with most things that are doled out as assignments, there's more to it than meets the eye (or ear).  First, it means removing my ear buds- not something I enjoy doing while on public transportation.  It turns out I don't like listening to other people, but listening to other people is a great way to learn about them.
      I admit I had briefly forgotten about this assignment and didn't spend time listening at the grocery store.  That may have been self preservation.  It struck me this morning though, when I overheard a conversation that thrust me into the moment and I remembered I was supposed to be listening, because I was supposed to hear moments like this.
      I was waiting for the elevator to go to my 8th floor office.  The door opened, and there were already two men inside.  I stepped inside, along with another gentleman who was waiting.  I pressed 8.  The door started to close and I saw a woman approach.  I stuck my arm out to stop the door so she could get on.  She gave me the mildly appreciative nod and pressed 7.  4 and 6 were already lit up.  I had taken my ear buds out at this point and was wrapping them around my iPod.  Apparently someone to the right of me recognized the woman.  I ascertained from the ID card hanging from his pocket his name was Greg.  I don't remember her name now; I'll call her Julia.
Greg: Good Morning Julia.
Julia is slightly confused, and looks around the now crowded elevator.
Julia: Oh, hello.  Good morning.
She waits just a second, and then-
Julia: Congratulations.
And then Greg puts on his best Eeyore impression.
Greg: Yeah.

What?  Yeah?  She says Congratulations and you say Yeah?  And not only do you say yeah, but you say it in the most depressing manner possible.  Was she congratulating you on your failed suicide?  I say, even if you're not happy about whatever someone is congratulating you for, notice the fact that you're in an elevator with three strangers, and they now think you're a complete dick.
     By now we were at the 4th floor and someone got off the elevator.
     Greg: What are you here for?
     Julia: A meeting, what else?
     Greg: For us?
     Julia: I'll get off with you and talk to you for a moment.

Yep, weird.  The elevator stops at the 6th floor and they both get off.  Then I hear Julia say "actually, no."  The fact that I overheard her means either she wasn't concerned about me knowing this information- (so why wait to say it?), or she thought there was some sort of invisible barrier on the elevator that allows only those inside to hear what's happening inside, regardless of the position of the door. The door closed and I got to make a superfluous stop at the 7th floor- apparently where Julia's meeting was. 
      I have a few theories about this conversation, and their relationship.  I think Julia and Greg and might be the stars of my next sketch, "Congratulations on your failed suicide attempt." 

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