Have you ever overheard something you wish you hadn’t?
I was thinking that sometimes ignorance is bliss, but once you know something, you can’t un-know it.
The other day I overheard something that I don’t believe I was intended to hear. It was simple enough, harmless enough, but the two people speaking, at first aware of my presence in the room took no notice. It was only after one person asked a question to the other that I felt the air in the room change. There was an awkward, uncomfortable pause before the question’s recipient offered a response. When he spoke, it was with tension in his voice and reluctance, as though he would be truthful, but that the answer would be as brief as possible. I made no move as though I had taken no notice of them. I shifted my position in the room and made deliberate movements, trying not to listen but finding it impossible.
So, I got to thinking, how many conversations do we stumble upon? What do we do when we know something that wasn’t meant for us?
Try this: write a scene with two people discussing something sensitive. Add a third person who hears it all. How do they react? How does the listener use the information they’ve gained by chance?
1. Two people discuss a mutual friend.
2. A couple discuss placing an older parent in a retirement home. Someone overhears.
3. Two colleagues discuss an awkward work related situation and the boss overhears. They do not know that the boss knows.