Speaker phone ladies and other rude awakenings

Art Journal - March 21, 2015 Louise Gallagher
Art Journal – March 21, 2015

She races towards the C-train, one hand reaching out to stop the doors from closing, the other cradling her cell phone just below her chin. Just in time, she slips between the closing doors… and keeps talking. Out loud. On speaker. On her phone.

I mean really? It’s bad enough she has to talk on the phone in a just past rush hour, not as crowded but still full train-car. But to keep doing it on speaker phone?

I listen in. I know. I know. But, what else was I supposed to do? She’s standing just a few feet from where I’m sitting and is making no attempt to lower her voice.

She talks about interest rates and annuities, payouts and coupons. The woman on the other end talks about prime and term and all sorts of things finance related. At first, I think possibly she’s organizing a life insurance policy. Which, given she’s talking out loud, on speakerphone, in public on an almost full train-car, doesn’t seem like a bad idea. I hope she gets it in place before the train ride ends. Who knows if she’ll survive the trip?

I look around the car. By the looks on people’s faces, no one else seems to think it’s a good idea. Why does she?

Finally, she hangs up. And checks her phone. There was another call while she was on the last one.

She starts to dial.

And that’s when the train pulls into my stop.

I  must write about this incident tomorrow morning, I tell myself and think about all the witty, sarcastic things I can write. I’ll include other things people do in public that drive me crazy and call it, ‘The 5 things to do in public to make sure everyone knows you exist’. And then, I move into my day and forget about speaker phone lady. Until this morning in meditation when unbidden she enters my thoughts, cell phone in hand, talking loudly, oblivious to how she’s crowding my mind just when I’m trying to empty it.

I laugh at myself. Now that’s enlightenment! Here I am seeking the stillness when speaker phone lady enters with her relentless reminder that there’s no avoiding my judgements.

‘Cause there’s the rub.

I want to hold this woman in disdain. I want to chastise her for being so thoughtless, inconsiderate and downright rude. And in my judgements, I am no different. Except, maybe, I do know better. I’m just avoiding what I know to be true. We are all connected. There is no us and them.

She was just doing what she knew. Maybe it was thoughtless, inconsiderate. But what am I doing to create better in the world?

It is the dichotomy of modern day living. To create the world I want to live in, I must let go of criticising, condemning and complaining about others and step lovingly into that space where no matter how someone else is in the world, I seek first to understand. Understanding is the path to finding common ground.

I cannot change the world holding myself as ‘other’. We are not ‘other’. We are all one. How you are is how I am. We are all connected.

Criticizing, condemning, complaining does nothing other than to create a space between us in which I hold our differences as a barrier to our common ground.

I breathe and give thanks. I am grateful for this speaker phone lady who reminds me that in my crowded mind, judgement reigns. To allow for stillness, I must fill the spaces between us not with disdain, but with love for our shared humanity.

If I want our connection to be heard above the din of a speaker phone on a crowded train, I must clear my thinking of my judgements and move with grace into that space where I heed the call of acceptance. There was no ‘us and them’ on that train. No rude speaker phone lady and all the rest of us sitting in judgement. There was only us. Each and all of us, making our way to where ever we’re going, the best way we know how.

It’s up to me to ensure the path I take to get to where I want to be creates more of what I  want to have in the world; harmony, peace, kindness, joy, love.





24 thoughts on “Speaker phone ladies and other rude awakenings”

  1. LG

    Some people go through life, apparently unscathed, oblivious to everything.

    Unfortunately, they walk among those of us who notice everything.

    Everything, therefore, is the common denominator problem.

    Observers observe. You are doing what it is your nature to do, observing and commenting on your observations.

    That woman is the centre of her own universe. We all are in one way or another. Perhaps she DOES know there are other people in her universe. I suspect she does, but just doesn’t care. Since she’s survived, there might be something to ‘being inconsiderate’ that insures survival of such annoying creatures …

    It all comes down to US vs. THEM.

    I’m glad you are one of US.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true Mark — it is my nature to observe, and ponder and comment on my responses to my ponderings and my observations.

      I still do not feel it comes down to us vs them — for me, there is no us or them, we are all us. we are all them. 🙂

      But I do like your observations on how she’s survived — it is survival sometimes just to keep doing what we’ve always done… 🙂


  2. Wise words, but so very hard to do sometimes. At the art show this weekend a lot of the artists were camped together in a small vacant lot. Someone parked next to us that felt they had to run a very loud generator most all the time. When they turned it on at 8:30 at night, when all we wanted was rest and peace, it was hard not to get angry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Mary. I hear you! And I feel the discomfort — and yes, it is the not getting angry that is so difficult. Ian in his comment talks about saying something — and sometimes, I think that is important — but it’s finding a way to say it that creates a greater opportunity for common ground that can be so challenging when all I want to do is ‘get mad’! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very nice post. Despite thoughtlessness which can be at play, we all really are just muddling along best we can. While we should work on not being thoughtless, it is not the worst of sins.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thinking about the issue of thoughtlessness brought to mind another distinction…the difference between not doing something thoughtless or doing something deliberately thoughtful. And that sometimes requires a little advance knowledge to change behavior. One example I have is the result of participating on a Parkinson’s forum for many years on behalf of a friend. I was gathering information for him and became attached to the caregivers on the forum. One caregiver had commented on the difficulties her husband with PD had getting toilet paper off the roll in public restrooms. Those plastic dual roll ones I even find tricky to unroll some paper if you are forced to reach in to spin it. She had mentioned how nice it would be if every one would leave the paper hanging down beneath the dispenser so it would be easy to grab. Its not that we are thoughtless if we don’t do that if unaware of someone else’s predicament, but I deliberately now will make sure the roll has paper freed up in case someone with trouble using their hands is the next occupant.


  4. I got riled up just reading your account of rude speaker phone lady! Lol. But I too have just become more aware of my negative energy lately and begun asking myself if it is worth my own time out of my day and the energy to pursue. So good for you!! I love it as we stop and take account. Not that rude speaker lady couldn’t have used a personal yelp and one star review on her behavior. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL Di. Not that rude speaker lady couldn’t have used a personal yelp and one star review on her behavior. 🙂

      We are all one. I do my best to not do rude, but my sense of what is rude, or not rude, may be different than someone else’s. 🙂

      Though I do like the idea of going around giving personal yelps! Love it. Love you. Hugs.


  5. My friend Helga has a cell phone c-train story almost every time I see her Louise. For some reason, it’s never bothered me – I totally tune it out.

    You know what drives me nuts though? Shaky/vibraty leg or pen-tapping on table people. Ha ha! Without thinking, I have on occasion put my hand on someone’s leg or pen to stop them.
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fabulous post, Louise. And talk about synchronicity! While I was waiting to talk to somebody at the bank on Saturday, for the first time ever I encountered a man doing the same thing — having a loud conversation on speaker phone. Here’s what I did: (1) connected — with the slightest of eye rolls — with somebody else who was waiting, (2) thought about how funny it was, and (3) got some valuable info from the guy after he finished his call. I was amazed at myself for not getting more annoyed. Live and learn, right? Thanks for helping us all along in that process here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good for you Di! I just remember sitting there thinking, man I wish I could tell her how rude she’s being — and then realizing — my stop had just arrived! 🙂 Saved by the doors opening. tee hee!


  7. A fascinating topic. I can feel myself sitting there trying to figure out how to “help”. I imagine myself uttering a well crafted statement such as “I’m wondering if you have any awareness of how that phone call impacted others”. I then imagine receiving one of the following two responses back: (1) “huh?” signifying 0 awareness or (2) “mind your own business!” signifying an awakening and embarrassing awareness of impact. Neither response feels satisfying to me. At the end, I arrive at that same place you have … it is not my place in the world to “adjust” others engagement in the world. It is up to me to manage mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah Ian. So true — all of those things and more ran through my head. I wondered if I was being complicit in her ‘bad’ behaviour in my silence. I wondered if she was doing what she was doing because no one had ever informed it doing it was ‘wrong’.

      And there I sat in my judgements. 🙂

      Even the dialogue in my head is part of my expectations of how others should behave in the world — and in wanting to ‘fix’ them, I am assuming I am in the right.

      So…. yes. “It is up to me to manage my engagement in the world by bringing myself back to common ground where us and them do not collide.

      Thanks my friend!


  8. She might have got caught between the door unawares, while the train started moving taking her along half in, half out…one needs to be a little more present in order to avoid accidents and mishaps. That aside, your message is beautiful, Louise. In yoga class sometimes the teacher will tell us to become one with the noises outside the room, in other words to accept them and include them in our meditation—interesting. That helped me tune out annoying noises.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fortunately Lisa, the C-train has a sensor all along the door that automatically opens it if something is in between.

      I like how your teacher uses the noise outside the room as an opportunity to embrace the all of everything around you. I must try that practice next time I encounter a speaker phone lady kind of person again! Which I am sure I will as I can be quite full of how others need to behave in the world — know what I mean? 🙂 Hugs


  9. I wonder why the speaker was on…probably she didn’t realise, probably she was too pre-occupied and her conversation must be all-important for her. I have seen people talking loudly…just to gloat, deliberately announcing their lofty plans and ideas to the world!
    So thoughtful of you Louise…you have created a wonderful post out of an irritating, unavoidable situation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you are right Balroop — she was probably too pre-occupied to consider the impact of her phone on speaker to the rest of the world. She didn’t sound like she was trying to gloat. Just more, this is what I do because this is what I am doing. thank you my friend! ❤


  10. That’s one of my tough places as I personally tend to be a stickler about rudeness and consideration. Constantly have to pull myself back from those judgments and assumptions and remember the oneness. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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