Personally I have encountered countless situations where I couldn't help but overhear strangers talk about their personal lives in public. Most times, this ended in my interest being delved into the conversation so deep that it pained me to not be able to voice my opinions without coming off as a creep. Other times, I was simply engrossed in finding ways to not give away my cover. Moving on, this is a guide to help you react better to similar situations if you come across any.
MAKE IT LOOK LIKE YOU'RE BUSY WITH SOMETHING
Yes, pull out your beloved smartphone or keep stirring that already well-mixed cup of coffee; the goal is to make the person on the receiving end unaware of what you're actually doing. However, make sure you play a convincing role while you're at it. Divide your concentration equally; multitasking is hard and you wouldn't want either of your self-assigned tasks to falter.
DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT
Making frequent eye contact and then expecting the 'eavesdropee' to not get weirded out is equivalent to jumping off a cliff and hoping to come out of it unscathed. If push comes to shove and you need to look at the face of the stranger in question, use a mirror (the old fashioned way) or your front camera while pretending to take a selfie, depending on your personal preference.
MASTER YOUR ULTIMATE STRAIGHT FACE
Facial expressions speak louder than words. It is important to wear your best poker face when you're out in despicable missions like these. Be it a revelation of shocking outcomes from the conversation itself or simply the delivery of a downright hilarious joke, you have to master the art of keeping a straight face to secure the safety of your cover.
TAKE COMPLETE CONTROL OF YOUR BODY GESTURES
The only thing worse than your face reacting to their conversation is your out of control body language. For instance, slight involuntary inclination towards the receiver in order to overhear better is eavesdropping suicide. Take charge of every muscle fibre of your being and keep suspicious non-verbal communications to a minimum.
MAKE SURE A FRIEND IS WITH YOU
Take a friend with you to act as a cover for your cover. Pretend to engage in fascinating conversations of your own. Throw in a few momentary giggles to provide the impression that you are quite engaged. This will ensure the elimination of any doubts from the receiver whilst acting as a protective shield as a result of your friend over looking your every move.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS- ABORT MISSION:
If you fail to successfully carry out any of the aforementioned tasks and as a result get your cover blown, the only plausible option would be to make a run for it. You never know the severity of the consequences you'd face if they got to know about your knowledge of their conversation. After all, even the most irrelevant information about the death of their childhood pet lizard or personal backscratcher collection is of highest secret regard.
Veronica Gomes is a devout Coldplayer and Sherlockian who is convinced her dog has secret pet parties at her place when she's not around. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org