Have you ever been in a restaurant having a quiet conversation, when you notice the stranger sitting at the next table over is hanging on every word you say?
What did you do?
When I notice this happening, I usually just look over at the person in a way that says “please focus on your dinner and not my conversation”.
One time though, I took my response to a whole new level.
I was about 20 years old, and a friend and I were dining at a Big Boy restaurant. We were at a booth, and there was just a wooden separator between us and the person in the next booth. So, eavesdropping was very easy.
I was telling my friend the true story of how a helicopter had to land at the park down the street from my house because a man that worked in nearby shop had cut off his thumb (or so the story goes, not sure what really happened to him), and he had to be airlifted somewhere. The woman in the next booth was really intrigued by my story, so I spiced it up a bit.
I started talking about how strong the wind was when the helicopter took off again and I said “It was so embarrassing because when the first wind gust game, my wig blew right off” and I grabbed my hair, as if it were my wig. The woman of course started staring at my hair, just as I intended.
I don’t know why I was messing with this woman, she was sitting at the restaurant alone, and I suppose it is human nature to just tune in to your surroundings when you have nothing else to occupy your mind. However, she was so obvious about her eavesdropping that I thought I would give her a more interesting story to enjoy. My friend played along fantastically too, and was full of empathy over the fact my wig blew off and that I had to go chasing after it.
I have grown up some since then, but I still don’t know of a good way to deal with eeavesdroppers. It isn’t even like I divulge anything exciting when I am out in public, I just don’t like that feeling of someone ‘hovering’ over my conversation.
So, what tips do you have for handling eavesdroppers? Or, are you the eavesdropper? If so, have you ever overheard something really surprising when out in public? (I know I have unwillingly been an eavesdropper myself, when people are so loud you can’t help but overhear every word they say.)