Unintentional, didn’t meant it, couldn’t help it – what else would you describe the sneaky previews you get into other people’s lives by overhearing their telephonic conversations at work. It was all part of God’s plan- its part of the human anatomy- that ears cannot be plugged so easily;its different with the eyes as they have the eyelid mechanism, but no such thing for ears,so voices, sounds just reach from everywhere, sound waves are meant to travel.This is how I exculpate myself of my innocent but somewhat detailed knowledge of your affairs. And especially in a place where the most familiar sounds are of fervent mouse-clicking and keyboard-striking, any other sound cutting this euphony, especially a human voice is bound to raise all ears that are not beneath headphones, so my innocuous eavesdropping may please be excused.I didn’t want to pry, I never meant to snoop.
In this labyrinth of high-walled cubicles, I had not seen the face in the adjacent north cubicle next to me, but I could recognize his voice even in my sleep. I am sure he is a concerned parent as he mouths the same instructions to his kids everyday.I wonder if his kids just hold the phone and keep watching the TV as it’s the same rigmarole – do your homework, don’t let Ralph (I know his dog’s name) out etc etc.And toward the evening when its about time for him to go home, it’s the special set of principles- drop your smelly,sweaty socks in the laundry box and clean up the living room.So I know that this guy wants to enter a clean home every evening. And one day I happened to take a detour to the exit of this hall and I noticed that his own cubicle was nothing close to being impeccably clean,in fact, it was dirty.If only his kids could some day peek in here!!
And here to my west is another guy who very punctually, almost hourly , calls his wife or girlfriend – and I am pretty sure she has to be a girlfriend.The call begins with Sweet Pie, Sugar, Honeybun and every other thing sweet under the sun, proceeds with you be careful, have fun and ends with an emphatic I love you. Maybe he reminds himself or her, fungertipstoo often, that he loves her. The girl on the other end seriously needs shots of insulin-such a diabetically sweet piece of conversation does not fit in a connubial relation, just thinking of my own rare telecons with hubby which are monosyllables like OK, Uh-huh, Why?,So?,Ok and finally Bye.
And to my east is a guy who never ever offers a piece of advice to his wife or even dips his fingertips in a decision his wife is confused to make.Maybe he trusts his wife with everything, he is more confident of her or his wife is perpetually confused. I don’t hear the wife’s part but what appears to me that the wife, when she is in a quandary, calls him up and what I hear always is “I don’t know”, “You decide”, “Its up to you”, “You are the best judge” and all variations of this expression. The problem that she asks help could be banal ones -Should I take a shower now or later, should I cook chicken or beef, or they could be crucial ones- Do you love me or not, should we have two kids or three? Wish I could hear that part but nonetheless, this guy’s response is the same, constant – I bet he hates using variables.Everyday I think that this is the last time but the wifey is amazingly elastic, she bounces back always.Well, I don’t blame her – trying and hoping for a different outcome – this is the hope that drives most of our actions.
And finally to my south – someone has bought a big boat this summer, so every conversation has to divert, converge, submerge into the focal point –the boat.The guy is so enamored with this boat that he can’t help it, its just frothing out.So he calls everyone and tells about her, swelling with pride always “Yeah she is a beauty” .And come Friday he is making ambitious plans, inviting people over to the river/lake, asking preferences for chicken/pork for barbecue.Every single person he has ever known knows about it.
So just last Friday I ran into him while he was packing off for the weekend.
“Have a good weekend”, I said. “Thanks, did I tell you I got myself a boat this summer”, he said. “Oh really!! That’s great, enjoy”, I was thankful to myself that this is what came out of my mouth, while my innards were screaming –“ Everybody knows that!! It is writ on the wall.”