My fabulous critique partner is a big believer in communication. When someone’s upset, he wants to talk it over. When something great happens, he wants to hear about it. He’s a writer by vocation, and a communicator by nature.
In other words, his cell phone rings at a near-frantic pace.
It’s a struggle to balance all those calls with his face-to-face communicants, but he does what he can. And that means he often ends up taking and making calls in the grocery store, on the freeway, and while running errands.
So it was no surprise to hear him launch into a story that started out, “So I was in Target when my brother called…”
But the rest of the story took an unexpected turn (an excellent example for me, who sometimes struggles with plotting issues), and is now my Favorite Cell Phone Story of All Time.
He was chatting with his brother while browsing the shelves when an older (note: not elderly) woman paused nearby, looked him in the eye, and commanded: “Go away.”
“I don’t want to hear your conversation. Go away.”
It was peculiar, yes, but he was in the middle of a conversation, so he just let it slide. But, I reiterate, “letting it slide” is just not in his nature. So when he was at the checkout stand (after completing his phone call), and he spotted this unusual fellow shopper, he went over to her.
“So,” she said, with a twinkle in her eye, “you finished your conversation.”
“Yes. And I was just wondering what made you tell me to go away.”
“I don’t want to hear your conversation.”
“Uh-huh. So let me ask you a question: if my son were here with me, and I’d been talking to him, you would have told me to go away or stop talking?”
(Here’s where it gets really good.)
“So not only can I not have a phone conversation, I can’t talk to anyone in the store? No one can talk while they’re shopping?”
(I was laughing pretty hard at this point in the narrative, but I have to admit a flicker of pity for the poor stubborn woman.)
“No. I don’t want to hear your conversation.”
(Best part approaching here.)
So he looks her in the eye and says: “Well, you’re not a very nice person.