Two girls, 14 or 15 years old:

“I want a waitress.”

“A waitress or a maid?”

“Right, I want a maid.  You know what I don’t want?  I don’t want to be old and have diabetes.”

A man in his 50s to a boy about 15 years old as the boy was exiting the bus:

“Take care, young blood.  Go easy.  Stay under the radar.”

I ride the bus downtown most mornings, and it always amazes me the things I get to hear on my short ride.


Check out the rest of the slices of life over at Stacey and Ruth’s.


14 thoughts on “Overheard

  1. Kathy

    I was just back in NYC and also enjoyed the snippets I heard while wandering the streets. One of my favorite things about the City is riding public transportation and hearing a variety of conversations every day. There’s almost always something fascinating.


    1. Hi, Kathy! Nice surprise to find you here. I’m a notorious eavesdropper! Sometimes I really don’t want to hear what people are talking about, so I’ll turn my music up and tune them out, but generally, I love to listen to strangers’ conversations. I get all kinds of story ideas, get a better sense of how people talk so I can write more convincing dialogue … I just try to refrain from whipping out my pen and paper and taking notes!


    1. I was chuckling inside when I heard that first conversation, too … but the more I thought about it, the less funny it was. Ok, the waitress/maid bit is just flat-out funny, but the line about being old with diabetes is so random as to not be random at all. This girl must be seeing exactly that with someone in her life. Maybe she’s helping to take care of an elderly relative? I have no idea, of course, but for that line to come out of a child’s mouth, she has to be seeing someone live that and thinking how much she doesn’t want to see herself in the same situation.


  2. We used to take the bus to school, and I remember how loud we used to talk, saying the most intimate things. Teenagers love to do that because they hope to be accepted as adults. Being a teenager is hard work!


    1. Being a teenager is a job and a half! And I think you might be onto something with the ‘acting like grownups’ thing. I also think it’s about the difficulty many people have today of distinguishing public space from private. Something along the lines of, “If I can sit in public and text my most personal and private thoughts and experiences, what’s the difference between that and saying them out loud?”


  3. molly

    I like the nickname, young blood. And I love the advice to “stay under the radar”. What I try to do, just not often enough. I would be better off staying under the radar more often.


    1. Yeah, it was an interesting comment. The man and the young man didn’t know each other, and it was an interesting, kind of fatherly thing for the older man to say. I liked that the young man accepted the comment respectfully, didn’t come back at the older man with attitude. It was another reminder of why I like living in this neighborhood. I didn’t see those kinds of interactions in my old nabe.


  4. Lucy Calkins shared a narrative based on eavesdropping a few years back it was so powerful. I often sit an listen to the stories; the tragedies and the triumphs in the lives of others.

    Thanks for sharing, and always fly above the radar, that’s where magic happens!


    1. Oh, I like that thought about flying above the radar. In this case, I think the man was telling the boy to be careful, not to attract any of the wrong kind of attention. At the same time, I think I need to be a little more above the radar myself.


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