Apparently, the word “eavesdrop” came about in the 17th century and described a noun, like dirt, but more specifically as “the ground on to which water drips from the eaves of a house.” Today, eavesdropping signifies a verb meaning “listening into a conversation without the knowledge of the people involved in it.”

Not too long ago, I had to make strategic efforts to eavesdrop. It required tiptoeing undercover, with inhaled breath, near a hushed conversation, to hopefully gather curious or pertinent information. Not anymore.

I can stand in the line at the grocery store and listen to, albeit one-sided, conversations about sold properties, other children’s behavior, and where they want to eat dinner that night.

Granted, most conversations aren’t pertinent and tend in this direction.


“I’m at the grocery store.”

Louder. “I’m at the grocery store.”

Impatience kicks in. “Why can’t you hear me, where are you?”

“I’m at the grocery store.”

“I’ll be home in ten minutes.”

“I said, I’ll be home in ten minutes.”

Right. Those type of conversations happen so often that I now make efforts to ignore what I hear. I don’t want to know what I hear, and I don’t think I’m alone. Why do most people stuff earbuds in their ears?

Which brings me to riding the subway in New York City. Where I see ears chockfull of buds. As I did last week after traveling to Washington state. A grand trip it turned out.

My return flight to New York landed at JFK airport. I still had the Air-train, subway, bus, and car to navigate before reaching home. From the subway, I wanted to get to Port Authority and sort of knew to get off at 42nd Street, but when in doubt, I ask the person next to me.

I was told by a confident person, “Get off on 35th.”

I got off at 35th and started looking for signs to Port Authority. None.

I heard a calm but clear voice, “You want 42nd, get back on before the door closes.”

I did.

“Get off at 42nd and follow the signs,” he told me.

The voice came from a guy who was sitting in the subway car I just exited. He was seated at least seven people away from where I’d been standing. How did he hear my conversation through the track rattling and his hoodie covered head? I don’t know.

All I knew was, I could have made it to Port Authority from 35th but I was carrying a heavier than normal backpack and looking for the shortest distance to walk. Thankfully, someone eavesdropped. They listened. Or did they answer a call for pertinent information?

Society is a foolish juror, listening only to one side of the case. Justice often comes too late to secure a verdict. People with mental work before them have no time for gossip about false law or testimony. To reconstruct timid justice and place the fact above the falsehood, is the work of time.”–21st Century Science and Health

[Jesus said] “Are you listening to me? Really listening? 16-19 “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”–The Message


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