For my current MatadorU assignment the instructions are to visit a place (for example a café) where I can easily eavesdrop on people and take notes on their speech, communication tone, and body language. I then need to recreate a conversation I hear in order to capture a natural dialogue through my writing. Simple enough? It would be if it weren’t awkward as shit and vaguely creepy.
I arrived at the café and ordered a milkshake. I awkwardly scanned the room attempting to look inconspicuous and assess where the best place to sit for such a task would be. Taking my seat next to a table with a couple facing one another, I pulled my laptop out of my bag and opened up Word. It became evident that the couple next to me was talking about work, but as quickly as I sat down, the man finished his coffee and they were leaving.
I am too far away from the other tables to overhear their conversations. The Rolling Stones’ song [I can’t get no] Satisfaction blaring on the radio drowns out any other noises that would be in my proximity. What the hell am I supposed to do now? I’m stuck in this coffee shop with the inability to complete my assignment because I’ve already purchased a milkshake. For a brief moment I consider how weird it would look if I picked up all my stuff right now and relocated a few tables over to be right next to another couple. Ultimately it would be too stalkeresque, so I decide against it. What am I to do? Sit and wait.
Soon someone does come and sits at the table next to mine, a tall broad man with a thick brown beard and fluffy ponytail. As a true reflection of my luck, he sets down his coffee, pulls out his iPod from his pocket, opens up a book, and proceeds to be fully engrossed in his novel. No, he does not conveniently start talking to himself loudly and articulately.
Two tables down sits a lone skinny dude with a clean white t-shirt and a baseball cap. He sits jerking his leg while eagerly awaiting something. Soon, a progressive looking girl – the kind with half of her head shaved and multiple facial piercings – joins him. They introduce themselves to each other. The girl is very outgoing and confident, the dude is very shy and speaks quietly, but I do overhear him when he tells her “I liked your profile, I’m surprised you agreed to meet me”. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen blasts on the radio and muffles out the rest of the conversation. Fantastic. There is an awkward online dating first date going on within ears reach but the dancing barista is blaring energetic beats that overpower my ability to eavesdrop.
At least the song choice is agreeable.