I was going to talk about something else but then this morning I happened upon a really good eavesdrop. I was sitting in the tram, minding my own business, when a man came on and sat down in the seat across from me. He was texting very intensely into his telephone. Then, in what appeared to be mid-text, his telephone rang. I wasn't expecting anything, but it turned out he was anglophone. He began an intense discussion in British English. My ears went on red alert. It was hard to hear because he was being discrete, plus the usual tram noise. So I had to really concentrate -- without being obvious, of course.
No one in this town should ever feel confident about speaking freely in their mother tongue on public transport...
At first I couldn't tell if it was about work or not -- work meaning, business; because this guy, who's in his mid-30s I would say, was having to work. "If I could just make one small point," he said, about 10 times, at regular intervals. (Clearly, he couldn't...) I couldn't tell what he did wrong but he sure had done something. He said he was sorry. He admitted that he has to "work on it." But whoever he was talking to, they weren't buying it.
From where I was sitting, this was a man who'd been caught out, and was now desperate. He seemed to truly want to keep his relationship intact. He looked like he hasn't slept, his eyes were red and his face puffy. I had no doubt he'd cocked up pretty badly -- or he wouldn't be half as contrite.
Then I heard him say, "That's it again -- Everything! There's always something else!" And I knew that he was going nowhere fast. Buddy, I wanted to tell him, when she starts saying "everything", you're really done for. You should never disagree with "everything", especially not when you've done whatever you just did. Agree with her: you're an idiot. Beg her for mercy: you've been a fool!
Regrettably, at that point, the tram reached my stop. It was his stop, too. We both got out. We crossed the street and I could hear no more. He walked away in the opposite direction from where I had to go.
He still had the phone pressed tight against his ear.