Thursday, December 28, 2006

Listening In

I love "listening in." I remember when I was a little girl I could listen in on neighbors who were talking on the phone because we had a party line. I sat on the floor under the kitchen table so I could listen in on my mom's conversations with her sisters or her friends. That's actually how I learned about the real world.

Dee is a great listener. We've been invited to join people for dinner when his not so subtle stares and expressions have indicated he was already a part of their conversation!

One time we were at a restaurant in Amsterdam and the three people sitting behind us were speaking English. We started listening to the man directly behind Dee. He was telling a story of when he was an emergency room doctor and a man was brought in by ambulance. The man and his wife had returned home to discover a robber in their house. The man chased him to the sliding door and then banged into it, breaking the window and cutting himself in the process. When they returned home from the hospital, the wife tried to clean the blood off the drapes with a solvent, and then poured the rest down the toilet. The husband went into the bathroom, sat down, and lit a cigarette to relax as he finished his business. Then he dropped the cigarette into the toilet. The solvent was still clinging to the side of the toilet bowl and the spark ignited, and blew up! The poor man's butts (both) were on fire! The wife called the ambulance, and the same ambulance men came to rescue him. As they were carrying him down the stairs on a stretcher the wife told the story of how it had happened and they started laughing so hard they dropped their patient and he fell down the stairs, and broke his arm! Not a good day for him.

As we listened in on this story, Dee was shaking with laughter so hard his chair was bumping against the chair of the doctor behind him who was actually telling it. We were trying not to be too obvious, as we snuck a look when they left their table. The man was very familiar looking, and Dee recognized him as the doctor who had been on TV locally because of a recent story about Barney Clark's heart operation. Without thinking Dee blurted out, "Dr. DeVries!" The doctor turned and Dee galantly stepped up and introduced himself, complimented him on his medical work and wished him happy travels. The doctor was somewhat confused, but responded politely and went on his way. Since then we remind ourselves to be more circumspect by warning each other, "Dr. DeVries..."

I am reminded of this because reading blogs makes me feel like I'm listening in on someone's private conversation. I'm often entertained, I learn more about real life, and I gain empathy for people I don't know and the struggles and challenges they're having. It's giving me depth.

I read an article by Alvaro Vargas LLosa referring to the internet: "The web's orderly chaos leads to high social ends." It said, "The result (of the information age) will be an enhanced awareness of other people. That will probably not be enough to eradicate fear and mistrust altogether, but it will hold it in check, and the world will be freer and more prosperous for more and more people." Listening in has given me a new perspective on the world. I think it's an opportunity for growth.


Fuji said...

Awesome posting, love it!

kenju said...

Marty, I didn't see this when you posted it, otherwise I might not have posted that story I got in email. It may be that mine is made up or partly stolen from your story - I don't know. Either way, the guy was dumb!

Annie Link said...

Hi Marty, I'm not sure why this particular post was on your landing page (from back in Dec. 2006), but I'm so glad it was. HILARIOUS! Poor guy. His day just went from bad to worse. Thanks for a great giggle-from a great post!