On the train this morning, I was trying to read an article about recent research on adolescent brain development. In a seat somewhere behind me, a cell phone rang. A woman answered the phone. “I’m going to change my phone number,” she said, “I’m serious. I don’t want to talk with you any more. I’m done with you.” It sounded as though this woman had just dumped a man, someone she thought of as no good. “I go off to work, and you just go out on the streets, having fun, getting drugs, doing whatever. I sick and tired of it.” She talked to him for a while, then ended the conversation — I was cheering her on in my mind, even though I was only hearing her side of the conversation, even though I didn’t know either one of them. A minute after she ended the conversation, her phone rang again. She delayed picking it up, but at last she answered. She was less polite to him this time. After a short time, she ended the call. A moment later, her phone rang again. Don’t answer it, I said to myself. She answered it, but barely let him get a word in edgewise. At last she told him why his mother didn’t want him around either: “That’s why she doesn’t want you there, you’re always disrespecting her, if you can’t respect your mom, I don’t want to deal you. Good bye.” She hung up. Her cell phone rang again. She talked to him, and ended the call quickly. By this time, I was just tuning out the conversation — she had to know that you can’t have a private conversation on the train, but I still didn’t want to listen. I’d guess that her cell phone rang a few more times, but I wasn’t paying attention. Then it was quiet behind me, and I realized that she was gone.

7 thoughts on “Overheard

  1. Jean

    Ah. I’ll bet this: she kept answering the phone not because she really wanted to tell him to go away, but rather that this is a dance they do often. If I were magically peering into her life, I’d see him at her door late tonight, abject, holding some Village Pantry rose in a plastic sleeve, begging forgiveness.

    It will be interesting to hear if you ever overhear another chapter in this particular ongoing exhange again. Probably not, given the random way things go on trains, but you never know.

  2. Adam Snider

    Sadly, I suspect Jean may be right. It she truly didn’t want to speak to him, she’d have turned the phone off. (Then again, perhaps she needs to keep her phone on for business purposes, so this wasn’t an option.)

  3. Amy

    It was a cell phone. She could ID who was calling and ignore him (?) if she wanted to. I’m afraid she may not shut the door on this guy–but even though I know even less about them than you do, I’m hoping she does. Just these four phone calls in quick succession make him sound like a person you do not want to be involved with.

  4. Modern Girl

    That definitely strikes me as co-dependency for sure. And talk about reinforcing behaviours! If someone calls, and you answer it, they’ll keep calling. Everytime she answers it, that’s completely overriding anything she says to the person on the other end.

  5. Amy

    I can understand the temptation to answer the phone just to tell the person off. Of course, I may only be saying that because I’m co-dependent.

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