92. Eavesdropping

Hearing the word, I realize I spend my time eavesdropping throughout my workday. I work as an injury insurance adjuster in an office cubicle setting.  There are about forty of us; mostly women in these approximately eight foot by eight-foot beige cubicles that hold a desk, filing cabinet and computer.

The cubicles are all in a long row, back to back with little hall ways in between so I have nonstop opportunity to eavesdrop all day long.

My day usually starts hearing a woman each day at the same time check in with her children; whether they are up; ready for school, have their homework; asking what is happening now and whether they took their snack.

Across the way I hear another in my vicinity visiting with the psychologist on the phone about why his medical reports are late.

I listen to the woman adjuster directly opposite instruct her husband every morning on where she put the girl’s lunches; where to find their boots; she lets him know what the roads were like and the time she will be leaving.

My co-worker next door to me is who I have learned the most from about the technical side of the insurance business. She dislikes meeting with her customers so does all her business on the phone. I have learned about collateral insurance; little known policy amendments through eavesdropping her conversations. I appreciate that; but when her and her husband are fighting on the phone, I realize how much I dislike conflict as I’ve had to up and leave my cubicle rather than hear anymore.

It is a pleasure to eavesdrop on the women adjuster who sits to the right of me. Her soft-spoken gentle way of being is who I would want to be talking to if I just had a bad accident.

We are asked not to have a cell phone or be texting during office hours so it always surprises me when a cell phone rings and I eavesdrop an answer to someone’s husband about what’s for dinner.

Right behind my beige wall every so often I hear the F word when I’m not over hearing travel arrangements. A co-worker, on a walk with me one day, told me of her dream of being a travel agent.  When I am working on my files and that is her job as well, I find myself irritated she is using company time to further her dreams and then I think; maybe she stays late to get in her eight hours. She does travel a lot. Each time she returns from a holiday, I can’t help but eavesdrop as co-worker after co-worker stops in to hear about the trip. I learn a lot.

I do know eavesdropping the personal details of people’s lives contributes to our office’s familial atmosphere. It was being raised in a family of twelve that allows me to block conversations if I want; successfully focus on my work and limit the impact of eavesdropping throughout my work day.

—-Ellen Sagh

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writings:   ellensagh.com

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