TMI – Part II

Posted by mwallach on March 23, 2012 in Crazy Follows Me Everywhere |

Dear That’s Life,
Several weeks ago I wrote a column about activities people preformed in public that are better off kept private. Not included were public displays of affection, of which I am generally a fan, until it is no longer socially acceptable. It seemed I had generally covered a range of topics that many agreed were better off done within the privacy of one’s home. I did not realize or appreciate, however, that additional examples would show themselves in unexpected ways or that others who read the column would have more to contribute. My mistake.

This contribution came from my cousin who was innocently waiting to board a flight. When the following situation occurred, he and I were texting details of his travel plans. The gentleman behind him was on the phone and while my cousin was not eavesdropping, it is hard not to hear the conversations of those around you when in a confined space. Literally a captive audience, he could hear every word the gentleman said as they stood on line.

Personally, I am a big believer that if someone is going to have an audible conversation in a public area, then everyone is invited to take part. Especially in the supermarket or on the train, if you are speaking so loudly that all who surround you are almost actively part of the dialogue, then all are entitled to comment. The same is true on the flipside – if I am inconsiderate enough to have an extended conversation as I am surrounded by innocent bystanders who would rather enjoy silence than the sound of my voice, feel free to jump in. I deserve it. My cousin, however, was at a complete loss when the gentleman’s conversation took a sharp turn for the completely uncomfortable and there was no where he could hide.

“The pictures you sent me last night were really sexy,” said the gentleman to the person with whom he was speaking on the phone. Loud enough for him to hear, my cousin basically stopped in his tracks. As we were still texting, he immediately shared with me what he had heard. I asked him what he did in response, to which he wrote that he turned around and gave the guy a good, hard stare. While I would have handled it differently, I commented that he should look on the bright side: at least the guy was not talking to him.

There has to be a point when someone realizes he has gone too far. There is a time and place for everything. Just because it works for you or is convenient does not mean it is appropriate – which leads to me to my newest coffee shop related adventure.

I am beginning to believe that if you really treat someone else’s place of business as your own, you may want to put up a shingle or start paying rent. Once you have crossed that line between customer and squatter, you can never go back. And if you don’t know whether you are getting close to that point, use the following anecdote as a barometer.

Minding my own business recently in a Starbucks outside of the Five Towns, I was working quietly when I noticed a gentleman setting up shop. Various official looking forms and paperwork quickly filled the space around him. A nice looking couple walked in and exchanged pleasantries with the gentleman at the table. Earbuds in and focused on my work, I did not hear their conversation but noticed a number of things going on. Together they reviewed some of the literature the man had unpacked while he typed on his laptop. Numerous forms were placed in front of the couple and as their conversation continued, I realized they were buying life insurance.

As they continued their meeting, I became increasingly curious as to what was going on when I noticed the woman walk towards the restroom, a brown paper bag in her hand. I wondered briefly what she was doing with the bag until it became immediately apparent that she was collecting a urine sample. Momentarily shocked, I stared in disbelief. It is one thing to meet someone for coffee at a Starbucks or to work on a project of sorts – but it is completely different to collect a person’s bodily fluids in a public setting.

My husband happened to walk in and join me at the table at about the same time the woman returned from the bathroom. “Check out what is happening at the other table,” I said through my gritted teeth, while motioning with my head in their general direction. “They’re buying life insurance.” Curious, my husband asked me how I was so sure. “She just brought back her urine specimen!” I said, adding, “And look!” We surreptitiously turned our heads only to see that now, the woman had a disposable thermometer in her mouth. We could not believe our own eyes – it was just unbelievable.

If that story sound like something you would do, take a long hard look in the mirror. Like the insurance agent who clearly crossed the line long ago, when your name is stenciled on to the front door, you may want to ask yourself if there is something wrong with this picture. And as for the gentleman on the plane, if you have said something along those lines in public, then I have two words: Anthony Weiner.
MLW
As Seen in the South Shore Standard ’12

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