Working? No. Eavesdropping? Yes.


Every day I park myself at Starbucks to get some job-seeking work done. I find I’m most productive if I leave the house. Yesterday I made the beds, cleaned the kitchen, worked out and showered before I headed out.

Today I threw on a fleece, brushed my teeth (I think?) and left the house — a mess. That’s okay, because today I planned on getting a lot done by getting there early.

So I wander in feeling blurry-eyed and dirty, and take a table in the back by an outlet.

But next to me sit two men having coffee. A discreet-ish glance puts their ages at mid-50. They are having a LOUD, but friendly chat about politics. When I sat down it was about healthcare and though making great effort to ignore them, I caught pieces on homeland security. When the conversation moved to the divide between liberalism and conservatism, and how that divide is remarkably thinner here versus in other places, I couldn’t help myself.

I’ve decided to give up on working. There’s just too much to their conversation that I don’t want to miss. So I’m pretending to do something by typing this post, but really, I’m eavesdropping.

The guy with his back to me sounds exactly like Dustin Hoffman. He’s speaking with authority using phrases like, “Tell me this, Mister” and “that’s the kind of paralysis that…”

Meanwhile his friend is stretching out his words for emphasis, “Myyy price is entirely different,” and “their price is the saaaaame.”

What’s particularly distracting is how chewy and sparky their chat is — chockfull of names, dates, examples, and other places. Each one takes his turn with a thoughtfully articulate presentation of opinion. I’m struck by how substantive their time together is. I want to join them. I want to stretch my debate skills, form sentences with thought, reference things that I’ve read in the news (and/or pretend I even read the news).

I wish my friends and I chatted more often about things of cultural significance. I wish I got outside myself more often, and without such conscious effort. I wish, I wish, I wish…me…me…me.

I really do love that women are emotional creatures of detail and observation, and that we take such deep interest in the people around us that it’s often exhausting. But it’s refreshing to hear two goods friends talk about the world with passion and intellect.

I mean, is it just me in Jcrewville, or do other women have lengthy debates about legislative impact and cultural influences? Tell me, what do other women talk about?

Damn, they’re leaving.

Me, too.

10 thoughts on “Working? No. Eavesdropping? Yes.

  1. Isn’t it fascinating to listen to a civil (friendly?), intelligent discourse on politics? It is so rare!

    But that’s why I don’t engage in discussion about politics much. I feel like I don’t know enough to spout off my opinions. Except for health care reform. I’ll run my mouth about that anytime, anywhere…including going toe-to-toe with my Republican in-laws (probably not too bright, huh?).

    Do you think, perhaps, that is why you don’t chat with your friends about significant stuff outside of your own world? You are busy job hunting 🙂 and taking care of your family. Do you really have time to get into the depth and breadth of an issue to feel comfortable arguing a point? And if there is no direct impact on you or your family is it a good use of your time?

    Still…I know what you mean and I wish I could have listened into that conversation too. Lucky you.

  2. Jodi, you are the best eavesdropper ever. I wish I had been sitting there with you. We could have eavesdropped together in silence.

    I discuss my daughter, writing, money stuff, exercise, religion (if I know the other person likes talking about religion), music, books, etc. with my female friends. Pretty much everything under the sun but politics. The only thing legislative I discuss typically has to do with tax law, and I get enough of that at work, so I have no interest in talking about it anywhere else.

  3. We talk a lot about social justice issues. If you’ve never read the short but shattering book “Sold” [Patricia McCormick], I recommend it! Get a copy for your friends and I guarantee you’ll be talking about more than the latest sale at Macy’s.

  4. OMG! Visions for your dad and uncles shouting about politics at Christmas dinner and grandma crying because they won’t stop! You are so cool having your own blog that
    you don’t have to talk politics.

  5. I hate talking about politics, although I often wish I could. I’ve never heard a civil conversation about politics, I can only imaging how refreshing it musth have been. Any attempt I make usually blows up into an argument where the other person undoubtable out argues me.
    It’s been so long that I’ve had good friendly banter that I can’t really say what I talk about anymore. I know I go on about asia and how their schools are different and I can often talk about geology to most people’s annoyance, although I try not to. Beyond that I don’t know anymore. I wish we had had a chance to get together and find out what our conversations would have revolve around. I got so busy after the new year and will be leaving in less than a week. Maybe when I’m home next we can find out.

  6. I miss my working/seeking work Wednesdays at Caribou Coffee. Quite often I’d find myself distracted and sucked into eavesdropping on some lively debate at the next table. What do women talk about? I don’t think we discuss trivial matters but I think we do tend to focus on the self, the family, and work in the context of interpersonal relations. However, as one of your readers points out, a book on a hot political or social topic can spark a good debate/discussion among women, too.

  7. I NEVER discuss politics. Nothing helps people form an opinion of you (correct or incorrect) faster than when you spout off about politics (or religion). Either people think you are a genious or an idiot. I personally try to keep myself out of both of those categories!

  8. I guess it takes a certain level of intimacy in a friendship to have political and religious conversations and walk away still friends. I only talk about those delicate and complex issues with close friends and enjoy understanding my buds better. I also rarely agree completely with my friends but always appreciate a thoughtful woman’s perspective!

    Now there I go…me, me, I , I.

    Thanks for sharing your eavesdropping. It was a fun ride. Felt like I was there with you. Only wish I could get my beds made, kitchen clean and a workout in before I started my “have to dos”.

  9. I love this post, although I try to shy from political conversations, because I am not well-versed when it comes to that subject, I still crave for meaningful conversations with grown-ups. Being a single mom and rooming with my 4-yo and taking care of babies 8-5, intellectual discussions are really hard to come by. I like to talk about life, religion, discuss social issues. Also, I wish I have friends who share my love of hanging out in Starbucks and discuss anything that has social relevance that doesn’t have to do with personal drama and reviews of what reality show they watched the night before. I wish I was there with you in that Starbucks, we could’ve had our own intense discussion.

  10. Mrah…discovered your blog and now you are keeping me from MY work! Can’t stop reading…I feel this way all the time, and while I think we are in different JCrewville’s…I also think I get it. Thank you.

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