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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, February 26

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amyc / January 26, 2005 5:55 AM

New Year's Eve, while waiting for the bus at Clark & Belmont, overheard a sharply dressed guy in the Dunkin Donuts lot possibly negotiating a last-minute date for the evening:

"No... No... You don't have to stay. Just one glass of wine, and then you can go... No... No! I promise I won't try to get into your pants!"

Joe / January 26, 2005 6:53 AM

'Hi. I am on the train. Bye'

Everytime I hear this conversation (like six thousand times a day) I imagine the speaker is an agent for the CIA or NSA or some other shadow government agency on a top secret mission. They are being tracked by a hi-tech operation center, somewhere deep in the bowels of a mountain. 'Agent X has just reported she has successfully infiltrated the Red line. Inform Agent Y rendezvous is a 'GO'.

Why else would someone have the above conversation?

jima / January 26, 2005 7:53 AM

Woman standing by the elevator at the office building I work at:

"Mister Roboto, PLEASE! .... THANK you!"

Maggie / January 26, 2005 9:04 AM

This conversation is burned into my head. On the green line early one Saturday morning, while I was headed into downtown from Oak Park:

"Woman, you know you owe me money. Seriously. How did you do last night? Now woman, don't play. I know you did better than that. I'm on the green line right now, I'm coming over, and you better give me my money... and maybe a little somethin' somethin' for me? Yeah, you know what I like."

Audrey / January 26, 2005 9:55 AM

The most disturbing cellphone conversation I ever heard was on the 147 around 9 p.m. involving a guy who was panicking while saying this: "Man, if you don't give it to me, I swear to god, you're going to find me at the bottom of the lake. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?? They're just going to dump my body somewhere. I'll be there in 10 minutes."

I'm hoping that was a Sopranos audition.

Joe -- what you recounted is an appropriate conversation to have on a bus or train. Public transit is not a time to have personal conversations!! The rest of us don't care.

Steve / January 26, 2005 9:59 AM

They all kind of blur together after awhile, don't they? In just about every case, you learn more about the person on the cell than you wanted to know, even if all you learn is that they lack decorum. After a minute, the call needs to end.

That said, my fave type is the fake "ohmygoshboss the trains are running slow this morning so I'm gonna be a little late" speech people give when it's closing in on 9 am.

And I was recently struck by the sight and sound of a fairly attractive young woman on her cell practically begging some guy not to break up with her.

jbs / January 26, 2005 10:27 AM

I tend to think that "Best Cell Phone Conversaton" is an oxymoron and to prove it, the Best One I ever overheard was a woman sitting across from me on the Brown Line recounting, in horrid detail, her recent trip to the gynecologist.

"But he told me I had beautiful ovaries!"

And people wonder why I still don't want a cell phone...

Perch / January 26, 2005 11:01 AM

Once when I was in New York I overheard a man singing to the best of his ability (as if he were trying out for American Idol) the following line: "Bean Burrito"! More like, "Beeeeaaaaannnnn Burrrrrriiitoo!" with requisite voice inflections and all.

Crazy New Yorkers!

Cinnamon / January 26, 2005 11:42 AM

Over what was obviously a horrible cell connection:
"I've decided I don't want you to call me anymore. . . No, I don't want you to come over so we can talk . . . No! No! No! Don't call me. . . Yeah, lose my number. . . I didn't lose your number, I just called YOU! . . . Don't-call-me-again" click

At the next train stop she met someone on the platform and gave him a huge "I haven't seen you in a million years" hug and kiss.

Naz / January 26, 2005 11:51 AM

'Hi. I am on the train. Bye'

I've done that a few times. Or have had people call me and said that. Basically, it's a time estimation thing -- I have people call me when they get on the train so that I can rendezvous with them on the train platform when they get to my stop. Or vice versa.

The breakup phone calls are always the worst. I've only ever seen women getting dumped via cell phone on the train and they're crying but trying to hold it back and it's sad. I always feel like going over to them and saying, "It'll be alright" and then walking off. But that would be quite odd.

Brenda / January 26, 2005 12:22 PM

The best phone conversations I've ever heard would have to be the ones that I didn't hear. You know, the ones that involved typing, not talking.

United States, meet SMS. SMS, meet the United States.

Thurston / January 26, 2005 1:19 PM

We are forced to endure the painful details of other people's conversations because:
a) many people crave the attention they get when conducting private conversations loudly in public; and
b) many people think being on the phone constantly is an outward indicator of how important they are; and
c) many people are totally inconsiderate. The loud-talkers are probably often the same people who exit the bus in the front and take up a seat with their backpack.
The handiness of cell phones notwithstanding, their use often has little to do with convenience.
God help me if the ban on cell phone use in flight is rescinded. Imagine 150 people all shouting intimate details at once on a 4-hour flight to LA. Pure hell.

Maggie / January 26, 2005 1:30 PM

Thurston, I have one to add.
D) My signal in my apt can be REALLY bad, and when I need to talk to my grandmother, who is hard of hearing, I can't do it from my place. I usually try to call her from work but sometimes I get the "Maggie, call Grama" messages when I'm not working, so I need to call her back sometimes while waiting for a bus, or in front of my apt. building, etc. Granted, my story is not the norm, and I usually say "I'm on the bus, I'll call you back" when I get a call on the bus, and I too get annoyed by people discussing their six-figure job offers loudly on the bus but the situation isn't always so clear cut.

eep / January 26, 2005 1:58 PM

The conversation went something like this:

"Hello? ... YOU called ME! Don't expect me to wait on hold just to talk to YOU! GAH!"

This was promptly followed by the person hanging up and muttering "Fucker!" at the phone. Heh.

Rudiger / January 26, 2005 2:04 PM

A few years ago I saw Chekov's "Ivanov" performed by the European Rep in Lakeview. During intermission, I overheard a conversation between a guy and someone who obviously couldn't understand him very well:

"I'm seeing 'Ivanov' so I'll be a little bit late....I'm seeing 'Ivanov'...SEEING 'IVANOV'!....That's right, I'm reaching nirvana. So I'll be a little bit late."

Devin / January 26, 2005 2:52 PM

how about when some dude on the brown line waxes poetic with his buddy about how wasted one can get plying oneself with bud lite in connection with other spirited beverages, and the extent to which the problem can be exacerbated if proper care is not taken in determining the order in which disparate beverages are consumed? "dude i'm serious, dude. fuck, dude."

fuck, dude, indeed.

emily / January 26, 2005 3:10 PM

My fondest memory of an overheard phone conversation involved a man talking to his friend who was coming into town to stay with him:

"Yeah, so, I can't take off work so I'll leave the key under the flower pot on the left side of the door. You remember the address, right? (insert address here). Yeah. There's food in the cabinet and lots of dvds, and the Playstation or you can use the computer, too. So you'll get in around 2:00? Ok, just remember the key is under the yellow flower pot to the left of the door."

I almost took out my notebook to jot down his address. Could of had a free playstation and some new movies. Moron.

Ray / January 26, 2005 3:12 PM

My favorite was the guy on the Metra who booked a hotel room with a company credit card. From across the aisle we heard his full name, address, phone number, and the card number and expiration. Sometimes I wish I had been taking notes...

goovie / January 26, 2005 4:55 PM

i once sat next to that chick from the bachelor (jen? jenn?), who spent a long brown line ride calling her mother and telling her all about her experience on the show. this was, like, right before they started showing the episodes of that season, so i didn't know who she was until she started appearing in like every newspaper in the city.

Sarah / January 26, 2005 5:03 PM

Eh. I don't really think that having a conversation on a cell phone in public is any different than having a conversation with another person in public. People who talk about personal or inappropriate things in public are wankers, regardless of whether the person they're talking to is in the same room.

That said, I frequently have conversations on my cell phone when riding the train or bus or when taking a walk. For me, the big advantage of having a cell phone (besides making it easier to meet up with friends at night) is that I can keep in closer touch with my relatives. If it looks like I'm going to have to wait for a bus for a long time I feel like it's a pretty good time to give my mom and dad a quick call, to catch up with my favorite aunt, or to chat with my brother.

Craig / January 26, 2005 6:51 PM

I don't mind cell phone conversations anymore-- those Nextel 2-way-walkie-talkie-beeping phones are much much much much much much much worse.

Nextel phone on a Westbound #20 the other day:
Bleedoop! Hey.
Bleedoop! What up?
Bleedoop! Did you put the folding chair in your parking spot?
Bleedoop! You know it.
Bleedoop! Great.
Bleedoop! Yeah.

JJZ / January 27, 2005 8:05 AM

"Sorry, I can't help you out, because I'm in New Orleans right now." Yesterday, seated on a train in downtown Chicago.

Shylo / January 27, 2005 8:19 AM

"The bail is how much? $50,000? What for? Oh."

-- on Amtrak from Chicago to NYC

Anne / January 27, 2005 10:19 AM

I personally find it more annoying to overhear someone's cell phone conversation than a conversation between other people in person. One reason is that people usually talk louder when they're on the phone, especially on the el. There's a big difference between being forced to listen to "So I'll meet you later, okay?" and "SO I'LL MEET YOU LATER, OKAY?" One is tune-out-able; the other isn't.

Steve / January 27, 2005 11:15 AM

What Anne said!

uummm... / January 27, 2005 2:43 PM

No Hello or any greeting, just

"I destroyed them."



Then came a nice conversation with all the details of the legal case at issue.

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