I once was having dinner with a Federal Judge and someone said that she must hear a lot of remarkable things in her line of work, and asked if anything surprised her anymore.  She said she is constantly amazed at the kind of things that people would say in public- riding in a taxi on the cell phone, talking to a friend at a restaurant, gossiping with a girlfriend during a smoke break- without any apparent concern for who might overhear what they’re saying.  She said she had heard revelations of illicit affairs,  the details of major business details, and even sensitive attorney-client information through these overheard snippets of conversation.  Then she admonished all of us to never talk on the phone on the bus because people are always listening- especially lawyers.

This dinner was fairly early in my law school career, when I was still filled with near-constant feelings of “ohcrapwhathaveIdonethisisnotforme,” and it was one of the first times I felt like maybe I would be an okay lawyer after all- because OH MY GOD do I do this.  I am unable to ignore the conversations of people around me.  John and I have been known to sit nearly silent on a date in a nice restaurant because we are both listening so intently to the trainwreck conversation going on next to us.  Like the guy last week who was talking to his date about having a very high I.Q. but not needing to prove it to anybody so he doesn’t mind working in retail sales (sure! don’t need to prove it to anybody!  that’s why you’re talking about it on a date!)  Or the two guys a few months ago who were old friends catching up, talking about their wives, when one of them remarked “I mean, I know she makes as much money than me and her career is important and shit, but when she tells me over the weekend that on Tuesday she’s going to have to work late so I’m going to have to pick the kid up from daycare, I’m like ‘Jesus, that’s supposed to be YOUR job, YOU pick up the fucking kid from daycare- I’m working here!'” (awesome.  I’m so sorry you were off the market when I was dating.  We could have had some beautiful times together.)

It’s a disease, this listening in.  I went to a coffee shop on campus yesterday to try to get some reading done before class (note:  4th Amendment?  What a mess!) and happened to sit at a table next to two freshmen.  One was a girl taking precalculus and one was a boy who had apparently been assigned to be her tutor.  There were several heaping servings of awkward, with the girl being pretty normal and asking for help on the precalculus problems she would face on a quiz this week, and the boy saying things like “well, it’s been about 5 years since I took precalculus, but I’m pretty much a math prodigy so I can pick it up again remarkably quickly,” (ah, good, I’d be disappointed if her tutor was anything less than a prodigy,) and “wow! You went to high school abroad?  Two points for you!” (What the hell? We’re on a points system now?  When did that happen?)  He was really the most awkward kid I’ve ever seen in real life.

Then he said “Yeah, I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to be a math major or a philosophy major- but either way, the goal is the same- because I’m headed straight to law school.”

Sigh.  Of course you are.