The Earl of Soggy Sandwich

Posted by on Jun 22, 2015 | No Comments

“We have great meat in our sandwich, but the bread is pretty soggy.”

Now how can you fault a guy for eavesdropping on a conversation with that line?

One of the realities of being a writer who spends his time seeking out drama and intrigue and laughs and pretty bridesmaids in fancy dresses at a luxury historic hotel is that your ears are almost constantly tuned to any snippet of conversation that floats through the air. I’d stop short of calling this an on-the-job hazard. I mean I don’t carry a pick ax and a helmet into work–let’s be real.

But there is that slight danger in my line of work that scales in on the terror threat level of stubbing your toe of becoming a nosy snark. Listening in on other people’s conversations is something I tell my preteen daughter not to do because it’s a little rude. But listening on other people’s conversations when you’re a writer is noble and elevates the art form. I realize I’m a big old hypocrite, but hopefully I’m one who continues to learn better ways to tell a story while my hearing is good.

In the case of the man and woman who were dissecting the quality of a figurative sandwich while enjoying a spirited conversation over a late lunch (salads, not sandwiches, so I knew the bread and meat combo of which they spoke wasn’t listeral), I was just sucked into my actively passive listener mode because of that killer opener.

It’s easy to tell when to approach and engage, and when to let things flow naturally and to stand back and be a spectator. This was one conversation that I felt deserved a natural flow. That opening line seemed to suggest I was in for a doozy of a listen–some more great folksy charmers like that sandwich line seemed to be dangling at my eavesdropping fignertips. It was all too yummy for the writer in me.

I listened in with rapt attention, plucking the highlights of the volley back and forth.

“Crackerjack.”

“She’s the real deal, alright.”

“Gotta keep those folks engaged.”

“Embrace it.”

“Look for efficiencies, understand the market.”

And, finally, the big zinger.

“If you ever think about hiring a coach to work with folks, I love working with super stars to help them achieve their potential.”

These two very smart and accomplished people were kind and nice and lovely but left me with absolutely no clue as to what their well polished business speak meant. My ears had been faced.

Ultimately, I found out Benjamin and Amanda (I also found out they had names) were having a business meeting about education reform, so I was right. These people are indeed smart and accomplished and I bow to their noble and frustrating work.

Then I snapped their picture, asked if it was okay to use it in a blog post and walked away.

Lesson of the day?

Here’s what I learned.

When the meat is good in the sandwich, but the bread really is soggy, it’s probably best to wait for a slice of pie.

That and maybe I should start to think about cleaning out my ears.

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