One of the perks of being a writer is the joy of guilt-free eavesdropping in public places. I love being able to listen to the conversations of strangers and justify it to myself as “research”.
Because it is.
So today I found myself in a coffee shop. I’m on a tight deadline for a short story I’m writing, so took advantage of my husband having a day off work to try to do some writing. Sadly, I’d forgotten that I don’t write particularly well in coffee shops.
There’s too much “research” to be done.
Shortly after I arrived, a couple of people sat down at the table next to mine. A male and a female, cousins I think, about nineteen years old.
“Did you know that all Americans hate avocados?” the girl said.
“I don’t know. Americans just don’t like healthy food.”
Yep. There’s nothing like a gross generalisation to get the conversation rolling.
After about fifteen minutes of “research”, I’d learned that said girl, let’s call her Nicole, had just returned from a six month working holiday at Disneyworld in Orlando and was quite eager to show off her knowledge of all things American.
“In America, everyone always complains,” Nicole said. “About everything.”
“That sucks. So are you going back?” asked her cousin. (Let’s call him Fred.)
“Yeah! I can’t wait!”
Seems reasonable. I like to go back to places where “everyone” spends all their time complaining, too.
“To Orlando?” asked Fred.
“No. Before I left I figured I wouldn’t be back, so I just didn’t bother doing anything at work, and I stole a heap of stuff. They probably won’t give me my job back.”
Y’think? Also, it occurs to me to wonder if perhaps this is what “everyone” was complaining about.
The conversation moved on from Nicole’s exciting life and over to Fred’s.
“I really miss Ben,” he said.
“I just haven’t seen him in a while. Like, not since my birthday last week.”
You know what I really miss? Interesting conversations.
Anyway, Nicole and Fred blathered on for a bit longer about inane topics like which one of their mutual friends was the most logical, whether the rain today was heavier than the rain last night, and which English accent is the coolest.
Eventually they left. I gave a sigh of relief, commented on Facebook that the kids of today are dumb, and went back to work.
Ten minutes later, a group of women sat down at the same table. There were five of them, all in their mid-thirties or forties.
“All the mothers from that other school are so snobby,” said Mum 1.
“I know!” said Mum 2. “What’s with that?”
After half an hour of talk about bikini waxing, “hilarious” stories of people injuring their middle fingers, and arguments over which one of their mutual friends was the most emotional, I’d had enough.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it’s not young people who are inane.
Maybe it’s just people.
Have you overheard any interesting conversations recently while you were “researching”?