I think I’ve mentioned before my issues with eavesdropping. If I’m in a public place (restaurant, subway, random street corner) and I hear someone having a loud conversation it’s hard for me not to listen. (This results in John and I having a lot of fairly quiet dinners when we are in crowded restaurants because I am impossibly distracted by all the conversations going on around me.  He finds this habit of mine charming.)

As a result, I tend to be super-aware of my voice level in public, trying to avoid carrying on loud conversations, particularly about potentially sensitive or embarrassing topics, because I tend to assume that there’s probably someone like me nearby who will be listening.

A woman I work closely with falls dramatically on the other side of this spectrum- she is totally oblivious to those around her when she is in the middle of a conversation. This is usually fine when we’re, say, in her office, or in a café having lunch. It is less awesome when we are, for example, in the bathroom at work (5 stalls! Other people around! My squeamishness about bathroom convos has been documented before!) or riding together in an elevator. Elevators are particularly bad. When we are waiting for one, I’ll cross my toes inside my shoes, silently willing it to be empty when it arrives at our floor. Even if it is not, Loud Coworker will continue to have full-on conversation with me, often talking over the heads of other passengers in the elevator, while I try to limit myself to one word grunt answers and staring at my shoes in mortification.

Today, for example, we were leaving a meeting in a government building. We got on the elevator and Loud Coworker, totally oblivious to the 4 other people already in it, says “well, I think we really have to keep an eye on Margaret, because I’m not sure she has any idea what she’s talking about with this proposal. I think she’s just trying to make a dramatic suggestion to get in good with her boss.”

DUDE. Loud Coworker, do you see these other people in here? Isn’t it possible that one of the other people knows Margaret? Or knows her boss? Or IS her boss? A little discretion, please!

I recognize, though, that it’s possible (though TERRIFICALLY UNLIKELY since I am always right,) that I am being unreasonable. I spent ages 8 through 17 in a pretty constant state of blushing because of something or another that someone had done that was, like, so embarrassing, so it’s possible I’m a teensy bit oversensitive to these things.

So tell me, am I the weird one here? If you were riding on an elevator and a duo got on and continued to chatter away at full volume, would you try your best to tune them out, or would you listen just in case it got interesting?

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