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A situation....
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Cindi    Posted 05-14-2004 at 05:31:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
..and next week's column. An Apology.

...some of you may remember an episode of the old Dick Van Dyke show, where an intercom was left on and a conversation was overheard that was meant to be private, resulting in damage to a years-long relationship between the Petries and the Helpers, their next door neighbors.

That was fiction, a story written to generate laughs and increase ratings. No where in that episode does it give you any indication what to do if a similar situation arises in real it has in my real life recently.

It wasn't an intercom, it was a cell phone inadvertently left on. It wasn't a neighbor or family member that overheard this conversation. It wasn't even really a conversation, but a litany of complaints. None too politely voiced. Punctuated with insults. Insults brought about by anger and sheer frustration. A 'venting of steam', if you will.

So the situation is, a conversation was heard that was not intended to be made public, and certainly not intended for the ears of the subject of the conversation. Ironically enough, that's exactly what happened. I was the one who inadvertently left the cell phone on. My husband and I both engaged in the conversation that was overheard. The subject of the conversation was the one who overheard every word.

Naturally this was a very uncomfortable situation, and the most immediate response was to try to place blame. It was my fault for not hanging up the phone properly. It was my husband's fault for being the most vociferous. It was the subject's fault for listening in on a conversation that was clearly meant to be private.

I don't know about the rest of you, but if I accidentally overheard a conversation about me, I'm not sure if a team of mules would be able to drag me away. I would cling to every vowel and consonant uttered with morbid fascination. I would listen to every single condemning word. I think that that is human nature. To simply hang up the phone, knowing that this conversation was occurring and you had a ring side seat, wondering exactly how bad it was going to get, would require a feat of superhuman strength. It would take a better person than I, to be able to not listen.

By the same token, I think it is also human nature to vent frustrations, and to discuss what we would perceive as the relative lack of intelligence, concern, or consideration, of other people that we walk among daily. You know you do it. We all do it, for it is also human nature to gossip, and to say things about people that we would never dream of saying directly to them.

I know for a fact that there are details discussed between husbands and wives all the time that if overheard, could devastate relationships with people on an infinite level, and I am not naive enough to think that I am not the subject of many of these conversations regularly. The only difference is that I am not privy to those conversations, nor are the majority of us, so we are able to walk about assuming that people we deal with every day regard us as the 'cat's meow'. They would never say anything bad about us. Why would they?

Or would they?

That is the eternal question. What do they really think of me?

Faced with a situation like this, and assuming I was the one who overheard, and tending to give people the benefit of the doubt as I generally do, my question would that what they 'really' think of me.

Well, listener, if you are listening That is not what we think of you. What you heard was a tantrum of epic proportions. What you heard was a torrid blast of horrible accusations and condemnations brought about by frustration...a deep and chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs. That's Websters definition, not mine. You were a likely and handy scapegoat at the moment.

Every time I think of you overhearing what was said I literally get tears in my eyes. You did not deserve that. I think I can honestly say that I feel much worse about this than you do. You have the advantage of being angry. I am merely left with sorrow. Of the two emotions, yours is more empowering, and I hope you find it within your power... to forgive.

KellyGa    Posted 05-14-2004 at 13:25:31       [Reply]  [No Email]
Tough situation...but, if your not doing business with that person anymore, its not so bad. Look at it this way, maybe that person needed a wake up call, and y'all gave it to them. Sometimes people have to learn the hard way, and it ain't pretty, but I think you learned em. Don't sweat it too much.

Cindi    Posted 05-14-2004 at 13:33:14       [Reply]  [No Email]
We still have to go in and settle our account. Ick.

A long-time lurker    Posted 05-14-2004 at 09:20:16       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Cindi, had to respond to you because you touched such a deep nerve -- at the end of a very difficult summer with our college-aged daughter one final circumstance happened the day before she was to leave to go back to school found me at the end of my rope and I vented to my husband. Believing that she was out of the house at the time I verbally, bluntly and brutally relived every unreasonable moment of that hot, horrible three months (he had been gone on business during most of it). That was ten years ago -- my daughter and I have finally rebuilt a relationship (it took almost five years before she could have a conversation with me again) but I know my words still sting in her memory as they do mine. The fact that everything I said was true and I meant every word then and would today still stand by my assessment of that summer is inconsequental -- it is the tone and the words that were chosen that are the source of the pain for both of us. Neither of us have ever mentioned it -- it still is not a safe topic to discuss. I doubt that she has forgiven me and I know I haven't forgiven myself for hurting her. But the larger truth is -- we always think that we are so good at putting "our best face to the public", that people really don't see our faults, shortcomings and weaknesses but to others they may be as plainly seen as the noses of our face. Inspite of that, people still love us, are kind and polite to us and stand by us supporting us as a friend. That is the mercy we extend to one another -- it is what makes us civilized. What a wonderful gift -- to be fully aware of someone's foibles and still love them unconditionally. It's a good thing that we are unable to read the mind of another person -- another one of God's blessings to us. :)

Cindi    Posted 05-14-2004 at 09:35:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
By your own admission you don't say much, but boy, when you do, you pack a whole lot of wisdom into it. Which makes me wonder why you lurk and not leap? (smile)

Despite my troubles, I wish that you would lance that wound with your daughter. Blame it on hormones or nerves, but get it out in the open and then give it a proper burial. Because it is still clearly bothering you. You don't have to tell her that you didn't mean it. Just that you wish you hadn't said it.

There you have it. Advice from the village idiot. Lol! Thanks LTL.

Lurking . . .    Posted 05-14-2004 at 11:28:44       [Reply]  [Send Email]
You are very kind - thank you. And I know you're right -- someday, when the timing is right, I hope to be able to help her put it in perspective so we both can live in peace with the past. Meanwhile, we are building an adult relationship where we are enjoying each other -- something I didn't think was ever possible.

Cindi    Posted 05-14-2004 at 12:16:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
I call 'em like I see 'em (wink)

This was ten years ago right? Perhaps she will have to have a hard-headed daughter of her own before she sees the light. I know that's what it took with me, and will most likely take with my hard-headed daughter. And if there's any justice in the world we'll be there to see it. Lol!

I once left    Posted 05-14-2004 at 08:34:25       [Reply]  [No Email]
my cell phone on in my truck after talking to my wife, next person that stuck her head in the truck window was a very flirtatious female co-worker. Things were cool when I got home and for a few days afterward also. I learned a lesson the hard way. ron,ar

Cindi    Posted 05-14-2004 at 08:39:01       [Reply]  [No Email]

Similiar thing happened to a freind who went to a bar where the female employees walk about unclothed from the waist up. Dear friend called his wife to let her know he would be late. A late meeting he says. Left the cell phone on. Wifey got an ear full of catcalls and indecent proposals made by several of his freinds (members of the meeting).

cowgirlj    Posted 05-14-2004 at 07:58:48       [Reply]  [Send Email]
A lousy situation Cindi.
Now, cowgirl up and go appologise to them to thier face, if you haven't all ready. You'll feel better even if they don't forgive you.

Cindi    Posted 05-14-2004 at 08:18:48       [Reply]  [No Email]
We're going Saturday, but Fred claims that he meant everything he said. No matter how indelicatley he put it. They let us down in a business sense and have done so many times before. What we were discussing that was overheard, was not doing business with them anymore, and that fact remains the same. Most of what Fred said was true. He just didn't say it diplomatically.

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