When feeling blue, try eavesdropping

Jumana Shehata
8 Min Read

Just listen to me and don’t talk. When I am done, you will tell me your opinion and we will do what I think in the end, I know what is right for you, whispered a man before sipping his coffee to the attentive veiled girl in front of him.

I blinked several times as I re-introduced myself to the surroundings. I have recently discovered a new pastime – the mysteries and delights of other people’s conversations.

“But I really want to go on this university trip, you know my parents agree and all my friends are going, you are busy at work for the coming week anyway, she said fixing her head cover.

“No, you are not going. Its final, you will be my wife soon and you know that kind of behavior is not acceptable. If you want, I can take you home.

Often when feeling down, I realize that going to my favorite coffee house and sipping on my favorite brand affords me privacy but not loneliness.

I am, after all, still in the close comfort of people and conversations that is enough to keep one from insanity.

“Did you see what happened at the nursery the other day? exclaimed Dina to her impatient audience of women with babies at hand.

Apparently, actors Ahmed Helmy and Mona Zaki went to pick-up their daughter from nursery, and they could not find her for hours. The people at the nursery did not know what to say to them, so they told her mother she was changing because she had peed on herself.

“You’re joking! gasped Mai, pushing her baby in her pram up and down excessively with irritation. “After hours, they found her sleeping on the stairs in an area for older students, continued Dina.

“So how are we going to choose a nursery for our kids if Mona Zaki herself is having problems? asked Hoda.

I looked up in dismay and back at my coffee cup as the loud laughing girls paid their bill, and disappeared into the doorway with a crying baby echoing behind.

Momentarily, they are replaced by another group of women.

“The idea is we raise awareness to problems in our community, explained Ms. Pinkie, before looking up to her audience in waiting.

This group is made up of older and younger women, more sophisticated looking, the working type with glasses and books.

“We will need to distribute the work; someone will work on marketing and getting sponsors. We need to do something different and get coffee shops on our side, to let people know what is happening around them, Pinkie went on without pausing.

My coffee got cold, and I ordered another. A foreign accent caught my attention to my right. “Mandy? Eh? I am Chris.

Australian, no. Yes, I said to myself confirming it with a flagged tattoo on his arm, as I got myself comfortable and ready to eardrop – this one looks interesting.

This couple sat across each other for minutes while the man ran his resume across the table. “I used to live in India, and Tanzania before that, then I cut my hair, got another tattoo, and decided to look at Egypt.

Each pause was met with a nodding smile, as every time Mandy would try to make an intervention, “I am a teacher, “I stay in Maa . He would quickly butt in and change direction of conversation.

“I am a very interesting person, people usually say to me, and I get bored quickly so I like to change my car, my hair, the country I live in every couple of months, Chris said with a happy sneer.

“So are you happy here? Oh, I did not show you my bike over there, he continued.After what appeared to be half an hour of a monologue, the couple quietly disappeared through the door.

Two giggling teenagers walked in with a laptop and loudly made themselves at home.

“Look, here he is, I will show you pictures and you tell me if you think he likes me, OK?

“Bossi, his eyes show he likes you, but … giggles, giggles.

“Oh my god, that is Miso, my brother’s friend, quickly, turn it off, I will show you later.

Their dying giggles accentuated a conversation on a not so close table.

“Open your mouth, Haaa, make a round circle, Ooo and then roll your tongue downwards, Laa and then a halted Ke, so together, Ha-Oo-la- K,

“Ha-O-le K Claire giggled as she made her tenth attempt to pronounce what was written in her books and what Tarek, was trying to teach her.

Well, close, “e is for a female, and “a is for the male.

So how do you say ‘I want to go to the shop, please’ to a man? asked Tarek.

Laughing out loud, really loud, head turning loud, Claire looked up her glasses in dismay, “I forgot!

“Hmm, maybe we should call it a day, um tomorrow I have something in the morning so we’ll have to make our lesson after two. If you are ok with that.

“Sounds like a plan Claire smiled.

“Great, let me walk you, he answered as he signaled for the bill.

A couple was getting comfortable on my left hand side.

Oh, the usual newly-coupled love birds; sighing to myself I turned the other way to follow up on the save-the-world discussion.

I found myself drawn to the fresh hot coffee being placed in front of me. The steam coming out formed sea patterns in the coffee and I went off in a daze.

“Just get out of my life. Its simple, yelled the love boy, while removing his hand from hers. “I am suffocated by you, I don’t want you, he continued.

A tear started making its way down her face, and I realized I was not the only one involved in the humiliation of this young girl.

I shuffled with my mug; I was ready to go home now, maybe not one of my good coffee days.

Some people go shopping or play sports as a pick me up; for me this new pastime that I tumbled into, besides the obvious benefit of being served is a reminder that things can be worse or at least it can take your mind off your own problems for a while.

So next time, if you feel like doing someone a favor just put up the volume, if it’s a private corner you are looking for, whisper or don’t do it at a coffee shop.

Just be careful how loud you are.

You never know – the person on caffeine overdose typing away next to you may not be working on a late night report after all, but listening in on your secrets.

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