Thursday, November 6, 2014

Story 55: Reverse Eavesdropping

            Hypothesis: Human beings will start talking to themselves, singing to themselves, singing with whatever music is playing around them, humming nonsensical tunes, whistling, and making a large variety of noises when they are aware that another person(s) is (are) around to overhear them.  If they already are engaged in said activity(ies), then they will increase their volume.

            Method of Observation: Hover around people at work, in stores, in homes – everywhere – and listen.  The cell phone variable is excluded from this study.

            Instrumentation: Ears. 

            Day 1: A Monday.  Location: A supermarket.
            Observer grabs a basket and browses the aisles, occasionally dropping in a random item to maintain cover.  At cereals, Observer strolls within a three-foot proximity of Apparent Grandmother and both stare at the wall of brands.  After 3.5 seconds, Apparent Grandmother begins to mutter phrases: “Too many choices”, “What is this junk?”, and “Kids are so spoiled nowadays”.  Observer leaves soon afterward, sans cereal and watched by Apparent Grandmother who was looking for affirmation and will receive none.

            Day 2: A Tuesday.  Location: An office.
            Observer is at a desk job and requests to turn on the radio at approximately 10:38 a.m.; Supervisor situated at a nearby desk agrees.  After one and a half songs, Supervisor begins singing along, leaving out the lyrics he does not know.  He includes sound effects using his mouth and starts tapping the desk using his hands to keep the beat.  It is inconclusive whether Supervisor is seeking secret admiration or open applause.

            Day 3: A Wednesday.  Location: A domestic residence.
            Observer is at a domicile and witnesses numerous occasions of muttering, especially when one party knows that anyone can hear except the person to whom the comment was directed.  Much angst abounds and the proper parties are not addressed for resolution, creating an endless cycle of agita.  An additional observation: a workman repairing the kitchen sink begins whistling and singing non-existent tunes every time someone enters the room.  Is this to prove that he actually is engrossed in his work and not goofing off, or is he just that carefree?

            Day 4: A Thursday.  Location: A movie theater.
            Observer goes to a poorly attended theater and sits near a couple.  Once they begin talking during the credits, Observer moves to a seat near a single attendee.  When the number of “Whoa”s and “Ha!”s increases, Observer moves to a seat near a group of teenagers, whose chatter increases in volume once Observer sits near them.  Science is sacrificed in favor of watching the movie: Observer moves to an empty area near the back of the theater that is quiet.

            Day 5: A Friday.  Location: A college.
            Observer goes to the student center, a computer lab, a study hall, and a dorm common room, and is surrounded by individuals talking, singing, humming, whistling, etc. soon after Observer arrives.  No work is done that day.

            Conclusion: People like to be overheard so as to be admired for their supposed intelligence and/or taste, depending on the situation.

            “Harry, that project is a sociology experiment – this class is Biology 101.”
            “I was hoping this could be my proposal for a grant to fund my research in isolating the gene that causes this behavior so as to silence everyone ONCE AND FOR ALL.”
            “The Evil Geniuses Lab is not at this school, Harry – please take your seat.”
            “Oh all right.”  Mutters: “There should be an Evil Geniuses Lab here – OH MY STARS I JUST PROVED MY OWN HYPOTHESIS!”