“There’s nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head.”
My name is Frank Joseph. What follows is the story of what happened when I eavesdropped on a conversation at work one day.
I was a purchasing agent at a company called Thomas-Smithfield Electronics.
Yes, a humble purchasing agent. I spent most of my day in a cubicle, hunched over a computer, often with a phone in my ear. I attended meetings. I did my best to finesse the intricacies of corporate politics.
A typical boring desk job, you might say.
Well, that typical boring job almost got me killed. Or to be more precise, what I overheard one day at work almost got me killed.
Before I tell you what happened, let’s talk a little bit about eavesdroppers and eavesdropping, shall we? We all claim to look down on those who eavesdrop.
And yet, we all do it. Be honest—if not with me, at least with yourself.
This is especially true in office settings. The cubicle farm that has become the fixture of modern corporate life encourages eavesdropping.
Sometimes you simply can’t help but listen in on a discussion that doesn’t concern you. (This is largely because, corporate politics being what they are, any given discussion very well might concern you—or it might even be someone talking explicitly about you.)
Of course, many of the conversations we overhear in passing, both intentionally and unintentionally, are indeed inconsequential: People talk about their weekend plans, their preferences in food and entertainment, a fight with a spouse or a significant other. People talk to pass the time, especially at work.
Most of this stuff simply floats in one ear and out the other, forming the white noise of the modern workplace.
But every once in a great while, you overhear something that really does change your life. Sometimes people reveal the darkest of intentions when they think no one is listening.
And that’s what happened to me.