The other night I decided to go to a nearby Barnes and Nobles bookstore while I was waiting for my son to get through his soccer practice. It was a great choice, since generally I spend the time obsessing about how my son is doing, and sitting in a bookstore perusing books for an hour and a half is like eating ice cream for me.
At one point I became aware of a man with a very deep and loud voice talking on a cell phone. It sounded as though the conversation was about some kind of prospective job – he mentioned that he would have to give his present employer two weeks notice. His voice boomed across the quiet bookstore, and I found myself irritated, my bookstore delight interrupted.
Initially I felt condemnation for his lack of manners. But I found myself marveling at the fact of how very different this guy was from me, which seems less a matter of morality than a simple difference in our innate wiring. I could no more talk loudly on a cell phone in a public place than I could walk around that bookstore naked. I would be overtaken by embarassed self-consciousness. That’s how I’m made. Obviously, this guy and quite a few others I’ve observed, are made differently. We are what we are, though it doesn’t hurt to have a little consideration to the impact of your behaviors on others, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you. I suppose this is their growing edge. Mine has more to do with learning how to let go of the burden of carrying so much self-consciousness around with me. It does get in the way to living sometimes. We are what we are.
Although I can’t talk on a cell phone in a public place, I don’t seem to have a problem talking loudly on this blog, inviting anybody who’s interested to listen in on my inner conversation. I realize that for some people, they could no more carry on in this manner than they could walk around a bookstore naked. Go figure.
I found myself thinking the guy should have the decency to go outside to continue his conversation. Eventually he did.