The entertainment value of mobile phones

When I first established the main Thoughtcat website, I included a page called Overheard in which I jotted down odd things I’d overheard people say in public places. I haven’t updated it in some time; laziness and lack of time have been contributing factors, but at some point it struck me that people weren’t saying many funny things anymore – or maybe I’d just stopped hearing them, I don’t know. On the way to work the other morning though there was one I couldn’t exactly miss. A woman boarded my train and sat down near me; I didn’t notice her particularly, being at that moment absorbed in my book (a re-reading of Stephen King’s On Writing), but she was 30ish, dressed in black and just after she sat down she started knitting. A few minutes later her phone rang and her side of the conversation went something like this: “Hi… oh, right, yeah – you have to sort of lift it as you turn it. Yeah, it’s just a knack. No? It’s not opening? Oh, hang on – wait. You know what I’ve done? I’ve locked it. I’ve locked you in! Damn. Okay, listen. Is the taxi driver waiting outside? Okay – call to him out the window and ask him to go downstairs and knock on the left-hand door. I think it’s number 151, I’m not sure, but it’s the one on the left anyway. Ask him to ask for Deirdre or Ivy, and ask if he can have the spare key to the flat upstairs because Amanda has locked you in. Yeah, that’s right. Okay? Okay, I’m sorry! Call me back when you’ve done it.”

She rang off then, and a few minutes later her phone rang again. “Is everything OK?” she said. Pause. “No, it’s downstairs. The door on the left. Forget Deirdre, get him to ask for Ivy. Is he there now? Call out to him – do it now while I’m on the phone.” Pause. “Okay? Is it sorted? Great, okay, I’ll call you again in a couple of minutes.”

The woman ended the call, did some more knitting and then rang the number again. “Is it OK? Are you out now?” Pause. “Oh, great. That’s good news. I’m so sorry about all this! I’m blonde and I’m pregnant – don’t hold it against me!”