Ever watch those made-for-TV movies? You know, those sappy but happy love stories where the requisite conflict arises between two lovers because one of them eavesdrops on a partial conversation, then sneaks away before hearing the crucial part?

“Oh Marsha, darling you misunderstood. I told Bunny it was over. It’s only you I love.”…“Oh John I should have trusted you. Can you ever forgive me?” Kiss kiss, fade to black, credits roll. Yeah right, if only.

If you’re going to eavesdrop, it’s kind of rude to leave before the end, don’t you think? I mean, you probably spent time planning this stealth maneuver. Why would you bail? Just ask Marsha.

We all do it. I started eavesdropping at a young age trying to find out what my parents got me for Christmas. They caught on rather quickly and started speaking Italian. Bummer. But my shifty little hands and feet decided to find the gifts, unwrap them, go “ohh and ahh,” rewrap them, put them back — and be totally disappointed on Christmas morning. It doesn’t always pay to partially eavesdrop or find that hidden treasure.

I met a woman at a restaurant bar who relayed an embarrassing story. While preparing dinner for her newly married daughter and son-in-law, she overheard “have a baby…” She shuffled off to the bedroom to text her husband the exciting news. What she missed was her daughter’s final word: “never!” I didn’t ask, but maybe that’swhy she was alone at the bar drinking Tequila shooters.

So you think you don’t eavesdrop, huh? Ever receive a call, and while yelling “hello? hello?” you realize it was unintentional? This is disturbingly labeled a butt dial. Do you stay on the line? Well I did. Unbeknownst to a friend of mine, she took me on an uninvited shopping trip down the produce aisle. I overheard her complain, “Are they insane with these #%?& asparagus?” Another time, not so funny, I butt-called someone and overheard, “No way am I calling her back.” Hmmm, now #BLOCKED. Just be sure your smartphone is off before talking to yourself, or worse, singing!

Then there’s the “hard not to eavesdrop” scenario. You know, people walking around stores with phones melded onto their ears, talking aloud to who-knows-who; you can’t help but overhear. One such ear-piercer voice was carping at her husband figuratively reminding him what he can do with, ahem, himself. Are you kidding me? I felt like yelling over the PA, “First floor: handbags, lingerie, divorce.” And don’t even think of approaching them to quiet down, lest you, too, be figuratively reminded what to do with…

And then there’s the biggest eavesdroppers of all: our techno gadgets. You think they’re just listening when you ask them a question? No, no, no! Much has been reported about how conversations in your home can be overheard. Now I can’t imagine that those conversations are riveting or a danger to our national security, but still…freaky, right?

Seems we complain about losing our privacy yet are often enticed to listen in stealthily. We all do it. And so do our “smart” techno-thingys. Some people say they’ve begun censoring themselves…wow, how does that work? Others told me they go into performance mode, singing or acting out an absurd routine for the invisible listeners. Oof, way too labor-intensive. I guess for some, this openness is acceptable. Others will continue grumbling about it.

You’ll have to excuse me now. “Alexa” is reminding me to take a shower; I have an appointment in two hours. Bossy little she-devil.

About the columnist: LJ Bury is a resident of Copperleaf at The Brooks with a diverse background including stints as creator/editor of a fine arts magazine, a political blogger and a talent coordinator. LJ’s Corner tells the stories of everyday life, with all its joys, frustrations and ponders.

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Do all people have equal value regardless of their actions, or is a person’s value based on their actions?

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