Well, one of them wasn’t exactly overheard. A bit over ten years ago, I was walking outside the movie theater at HarMar mall. (Yes, the same one where I saw the funny sign.) There were a couple of people up ahead, talking and laughing. And the guy said something to the girl, and then he walked up to me, and said “You know what? I love this girl. I really love her.” And she giggled and blushed, and they walked on their way.
I doubt I’ve gone so much as a week in the last decade without thinking about that day. I tell that story to people, and I guess in a way, it doesn’t even matter that I don’t know what happened, or anything like that; in my heart, they are always in love, and they are always reminding me how rarely people share their love with strangers.
A friend of mine told me another story, about people in a relationship, sharing it with strangers. They were stuck at a stoplight, and the strangers couldn’t help but overhear them. In this case, the guy was screaming “You bitch! You cunt! You just don’t think!” That saying, too, became immortalized - mostly as a phrase to be recited in a monotone in no particular context, where it’s actually pretty funny.
But… Someone said that, too. And meant it. And, eternally, that woman is out there being yelled at. Was she even aware of the bystanders hearing this? Did it matter? Did they reconcile, or did they drift apart? We don’t know… But it will always be a part of the world that these kinds of things happen, and that people will share their anger, their hatred, with strangers as well.
Now, you have two stories. Your task is this: Tell people one of them. Which one would you rather pass on? When you choose, you are making a small claim about which kind of world you would rather live in. You are reminding people of one kind of life, but not another.
Me… I think the sad story has been told about often enough. It’s sort of useful as part of making a point, but it’s just a sad story. It doesn’t need to be told anymore. But… I dunno. Somewhere out there, there’s a guy who told me how much he loved “this girl”. I don’t even know whether he’s still alive, or he still remembers. But I do. And I tell people this story, and I think it reminds them that there are things worth saying.